The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has conceded that “no progress has been possible” after the EU and UK have been at loggerheads over fisheries agreements.
David Frost the UK’s chief negotiator and Barnier have failed to break the deadlock leaving trade talks on the brink of collapse.
Barnier has accused Frost of refusing to enter into discussion over the EU’s regulatory demands of a level playing field.
Barnier told journalists, “In a closed meeting with David Frost and all of the UK negotiators, I said that the round that we’ve just had was very disappointing.”
The bloc are “preparing for all options” as the chances of a no-deal Brexit have increased, and he said that he is “not optimistic,” but “I’m still determined, but I am not optimistic.”
He added, “It seems to be a real lack of understanding regarding the objective, mechanical consequences of the British choice to leave the single market and customs union.”
Frost said it is quite “clear” a free trade agreement on matters such as security and aviation can be met “without major difficulties in the time available.”
The UK’s negotiator said, “Both sides have tabled full legal texts, there are plenty of precedents, and there is clearly a good understanding between negotiators.
Frost added, the UK will “continue to work hard to find an agreement,” and warned, “We very much need a change in EU approach for the next round beginning on 1 June.”
A “major obstacle” to the trade deal is Brussels “insistence on including a set of novel and unbalanced proposals on the so-called ‘level playing field’.”
This would “bind this country to EU law or standards, or determine our domestic legal regimes, in a way that is unprecedented.
“As soon as the EU recognises that we will not conclude an agreement on that basis, we will be able to make progress.”
The EU are still at loggerheads over fishing, and Frost said, with Brussels still insisting on fisheries arrangements and access to UK fishing waters in a way that is incompatible with our future status as an independent coastal state.”
The British government will not “agree arrangements that are manifestly unbalanced and against the interests of the UK fishing industry.”
He added, “It is hard to understand why the EU insists on an ideological approach which makes it more difficult to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”