They are aimed at a complete overhaul of close cooperation, said the EU’s chief “Brexit” negotiator Michel Barnier.
BRUSSELS -The EU and the UK have started the second stage of negotiations on the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU (“Brexit”), which is dedicated to future trade relations. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, announced this on Thursday after the first meeting with his British counterpart, David Frost. According to him, the UK refused to start negotiations on cooperation in the field of foreign policy and defense.
“We have held the first round of these negotiations, which will be very intense and will be aimed at completely rebuilding the close cooperation between the EU and the UK on a new legal basis,” he said.
“Our goal is to build a close partnership with the UK in the sphere of economy and security, to create a free trade zone that covers all goods and services without duties and quotas. We have launched 11 areas of negotiations with the UK on various topics, except foreign policy and defense because the British side has notified us that it does not want to discuss these topics. We remain open to discussing them in the future if the UK wants to,” he said.
In general, Barnier noted that the first round of negotiations was very constructive and useful. According to him, reaching an agreement “will be difficult, but real.” These negotiations should be completed by the end of the year.
Barnier stressed that Brussels and London still have serious differences in four areas. First, the UK does not want to introduce legally binding general rules on competition and business regulation. Secondly, it refuses to accept obligations to implement the European Convention on human rights, as well as to recognize the decisions of the European court of human rights on its territory, which seriously undermines the possibility of police cooperation between the EU and the UK. Third, the UK prefers to conclude a series of agreements with the EU on different areas of cooperation, while Brussels proposes to reduce everything to one extensive Association agreement. The fourth block of disagreement is overfishing, where the EU wants to detail quotas for marine zones and fish species, while the UK proposes to adhere to the principle of equal access to each other’s waters.
Barnier stressed that the UK is very concerned about maintaining its independence, “however, the EU also has independence, which must be respected, since the EU also sets its conditions for opening its market.”