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15 May, 2020 15:23

UK blames EU’s ‘ideological approach’ while Barnier berates London for being stuck in 1970s as Brexit trade talks stutter

UK blames EU’s ‘ideological approach’ while Barnier berates London for being stuck in 1970s as Brexit trade talks stutter

The UK and EU have exchanged jibes after the third round of Brexit trade talks ended with “little progress.” London accused Brussels of taking an “ideological approach,” but Michel Barnier claimed the UK was stuck in the 1970s.

The UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, released a statement after the two sides had conducted a video conference on Friday. He insisted that the “main obstacle” and reason “little progress” had been made was due to the EU’s insistence on “a set of novel and unbalanced proposals on the so-called ‘level playing field.’”

Frost suggested such plans were hampering London’s goal of achieving a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA), because it would see the UK bound by EU law or standards in a way that would be “unprecedented.”

The floundering Brexit trade talks need to be completed by December 31 – the end of the transition period – otherwise the UK will automatically move on to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and subsequent tariffs. London has so far rejected the idea they could ask Brussels for an extension, despite the coronavirus crisis putting solid pressure on government resources.

Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, hit back at Frost’s remarks, accusing the British side of lacking a real understanding of the UK’s decisions to leave the single market and customs union. He also suggested that London was living in the past, saying he was “disappointed” with their lack of “ambition.”

Barnier told reporters in Brussels on Friday afternoon: “Trade policy is no longer what it was, trade policy has moved on. We’re no longer in the 70s – a time where trade agreements were solely to dismantle tariff barriers. We’ve moved on from that period.”

Also on rt.com Irish FM warns of ‘crisis point’ ahead if trade talks between UK & EU don’t advance soon

The next round of Brexit talks are scheduled for June 1. Barnier has warned that significant progress must be made at that meeting, otherwise it risks a stalemate between the two sides that could prompt London to walk away without a deal. Frost insisted that “a change in EU approach” was required in forthcoming discussions.

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