By Hallum Cowell | Deputy Editor
Reportedly, the main issues of contention between the two political entities remain fishing quotes and competition issues.
Both the EU’s Chief, Michel Barnier, and his UK counterpart, David Frost, met for Brexit negotiations as the deadline for the UK’s departure from the EU draws closer. While the UK has already left the EU, on January 31, we still follow the bloc’s rules. The UK is set to leave the “transition stage” on December 31 this year and Boris Johnson has been adamant that we will leave regardless of whether we have a deal.
If the UK were to leave without a deal, the nation would default to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, where tariffs and restrictions could be placed at will. Throughout the Brexit process many have worried that this “hard Brexit” approach could spell disaster for the UK economy, which is currently in a recession in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boris Johnson said on November 7 that the “outlines” of an agreement had been made in the Brexit negotiations.
At both sides of the table negotiators are trying to avoid a no-deal Brexit, however both sides have yet to rule it out as an option if negotiation fails. As such it is unlikely that the transition period will be extended past the end of 2020.
UK Brexit negotiations seems to favour an Australia-style deal or a Canadian-style deal. Australia has a trade deal with the EU where they largely operate on WTO terms but also have some sector-by-sector agreements. Canada on the other hand, have a deal where they operate a system called the Comprehensive Economic Trade Deal (CETA). CETA removes most tariffs (a system similar to the current free market within the EU where there are no tariffs) however, tariffs remain on poultry, meat, and eggs.
Additionally, Canada’s deal protects what are known as “geographical indications” which means that Canada can only import items such as Parma ham from Parma in Italy, they are not allowed to import Param Ham from other parts of the world.
The UK negotiators do seem to be more in favour of a CETA agreement, which some would argue is much closer to a “soft Brexit”.
Johnson has said that a Canada style deal is “there to be done” and that, “I’ve always been a great enthusiast for a trade deal with our European friends and partners… The broad outlines are pretty clear, we just need to get on and do it if we can.”
Ireland’s foreign Minister, Simon Coveney said that it is “quite possible [the talks] could fall apart and we don’t get a deal”. Ireland of course has a vested interest in a deal between the EU and UK as the Republic of Ireland will become the only nation in the EU to have a land border with the UK.
The Prime Minister has also announced that he will be establishing an Office for Investment which will aim to encourage domestic and foreign investment in the UK post-Brexit.
Both negotiating parties are expected to resume talks again soon, with a source from the UK Government telling the BBC that talks were in the “final stage”. However, the source also pointed to the fact that some key differences remain, such as fishing access.
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