Brexit persistent serious divergences highlighted by Barnier after round of talks

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“Persistent serious divergences” between the UK and the European Union remain, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator said on Friday after the latest round of talks ended.

Michel Barnier flagged in a statement that there had been “positive new developments” during the latest — ninth — round of negotiations on topics including aviation safety, social security coordination and the respect of fundamental rights and individual freedoms.

In a statement, Barnier said that after 11 rounds of talks one could note that there were points of convergence, most of which had already been recorded in previous rounds, in particular on some aspects of trade in goods, services and investment, civil nuclear cooperation, and participation in Union programmes;

He also noted positive new developments on some topics such as aviation safety, social security coordination, and the respect of fundamental rights and individual freedoms, which are a pre-condition for our future police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;

Lack of progress was noted on some important topics like the protection of personal data, climate change commitments or carbon pricing;as well as persistent serious divergences on matters of major importance for the European Union.

Barnier added that any agreement on an economic partnership with the United Kingdom requires a solid, long-term guarantees of open and fair competition. Our new economic partnership must be underpinned by clear rules. These rules must be operational and credible. That requires effective enforcement mechanisms, in particular on State aid, and a commitment towards non-regression from social, fiscal, environmental and climate standards. This is possible while fully respecting the regulatory autonomy and sovereignty of both parties.

It also requires an efficient governance framework, based on a comprehensive agreement, with robust enforcement and dispute settlement mechanisms, as well as effective remedies. This is naturally even more important following the UK government’s introduction of the « Internal Market Bill», which breaches its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland.

Barnier also highlighted the need for a stable, sustainable and long-term agreement on fisheries, enabling the United Kingdom to further develop its fishing opportunities, while ensuring the sustainable use of resources and protecting the activities of European fishermen and women.

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