LONDON (Reuters) – Senior UK government minister Michael Gove said on Sunday there was a post-Brexit trade agreement to be made with the European Union that provided a block agreed to be compromised, days after both parties said the talks made little progress.
Britain left the European Union on 31 January but the main conditions of membership remained in force for the transition period until the end of this year to allow it to negotiate a free trade agreement.
Both the UK and EU negotiators on Friday gave a gloomy assessment of the latest round of talks, saying the other side must provide a basis if progress is to be made.
The impasse has raised the prospect that there will be no agreement, a scenario that will undermine global trade when the world seeks to overcome the economic collapse of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, investor concerns about the state of trade negotiations pushed sterling to its lowest level in more than a month.
The main point in the conversation is what is called the “level playing field” rule to ensure fair competition. The EU says they are urgently needed to ensure Britain does not reduce its standards, but Britain rejects it because it is binding on European law.
Gove, Minister of the British Cabinet Office, said this and issues such as the right to fishing in the future remain the main problem.
“We explained to the EU that we could not agree on these terms,” he told Sky News. “But I am sure there is an agreement that must be done. It just requires a level of flexibility on the part of the EU which I’m sure they will appreciate they need to show. ”
However, in a demonstration of obstacles ahead, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney – who played an important role in talks outside the UK EU because of Ireland’s shared borders with the British province of Northern Ireland – said Britain must move in the field of play that is aligned with problems to break the deadlock.
He told Irish national broadcaster RTE on Sunday that Britain was “basically rewriting” what had been done in the political declaration of the Brexit agreement.
“Until Britain changes its approach in the context of providing EU guarantees that they will not effectively deregulate the economy while expecting free access on the EU single market, I think we will continue to be in real trouble in this regard. talks, “he added.
The British newspaper Mail on Sunday reports that the government is preparing to leave altogether if there is no progress in the next round of talks which will start within 15 days and if the European Union does not shift.
“Damage is very likely,” a senior government source told the newspaper.
The Sunday Times said the planning committee without agreement, chaired by Gove, would now meet regularly and that officials who had been seconded to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak were being moved back to plan this possibility.
Reporting by Michael Holden and Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by William Schomberg, Catherine Evans and Andrew Heavens