Saturday, 6 June 2020

Michel Barnier's Statement at the End of the Fourth Round of Negotiations

Michel Barnier
By Foto-AG Gymnasium Melle,
CC BY-SA 3.0,

Jane Lambert

As I said in my May Brexit Briefing, a fourth round of talks between British and Commission negotiators was scheduled for the 2 to 5 June 2020.  They have now taken place and a statement has been made on their progress by Michel Barnier (see Statement by Michel Barnier following Round 4 of negotiations for a new partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom 5 June 2020).

On its face, it does not make very encouraging reading.  Monsieur Barnier said that there were four big sticking points, namely:
  • "Fisheries, and free and fair competition, the so-called ‘level playing field' – two essential elements of the new economic partnership we want to build;
  • Guarantees protecting people's fundamental rights and freedoms needed to underpin a close police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • And finally, the governance of our future relationship."
On none of those issues, according to Monsieur Barnier, has there been any significant progress.  He complains that the British wish to renegotiate the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the theUnited Kingdom which the Prime Minister signed and expressed concerns as to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement.

There has been no parallel statement from the British side.  As I said in my comments on the British counterproposals and Brexit Briefing a lot more work has been done on the British side than might be expected for mere window dressing. Nevertheless, Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England has warned business leaders to prepare for the present transition or implementation period to expire without an agreement (see Ryan Weeks Bank of England governor tells banks to brace for no-deal Brexit – report 3 June 2020 Financial News).

I have added Monsieur Barnier's speech and my comments to my EU negotiations page. I am also monitoring the UK's negotiations for free trade agreements with the USA and Japan.  Despite the deteriorating relationship with China over Huawei, Hong Kong and responsibility for the pandemic I am minded to monitor China's Belt, Road Initiative ("BRI").  The BRI is a massive infrastructure project over the next 30 years for which British businesses and their professional advisors are well placed to win contracts.  I am under no illusions as to the nature of the present Chinese leadership but while countries' interests remain constant governments and policies can and do change.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or any of its topics should call my clerk Stephen Somerville on 07986 948267 or send me a message through my contact page.

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