The European Union’s chief negotiator last week refused a British offer to start work on a draft free-trade agreement due to a lack of progress on the so-called level-playing area and future access to the nation’s fishing grounds.
He’s insisted both sides must first proceed forward on the most controversial issues before drawing up plans at the regions where there is more convergence between them. But British officials are concerned, that this tactic is raising the chances of no-deal after the post-Brexit transition period on December 31.
“There is a sense from the EU side they’d like to begin talking some substance on governance, an area they’re considering, but they are caught by the principles of parallelism,” one source said.
During a prior round of discussions, David Frost, the Prime Minister’s chief negotiator with Europe, agreed to shelve plans for a collection of different agreements to govern the future UK-EU relationship.
Rather he agreed to operate on the basis that the pact will be contained within one overarching structure, an integral demand from Brussels.
Both sides failed to end the impasse a week in Brussels together with the discussions finally breaking up without any significant progress to be declared.
Mr Barnier whined the wrangling within a post-Brexit pact had gone backwards with hopes of a deal fading.
Mr Frost blamed Brussels’ strategies for the stalemate, insisting the bloc’s refusal to pursue broader elements of this trade arrangement had stalled progress.
“The EU remains insisting not only that we must accept goodwill with EU state-aid and fisheries policy, but also that this has to be agreed prior to any further substantive work could be done in any other area of the discussion, such as on legal texts,” he said.
“This makes it unnecessarily difficult to make progress. There are other vital areas which remain to be resolved and, even where there is a wide comprehension between negotiators; there is a good deal of detail to work through. Time is short for each side.”
UK officials have contended the EU’s refusal to budget isn’t compatible with all the UK’s new status as a sovereign state since leaving the bloc in January.
Boris Johnson’s Brexit envoy believes a deal is possible; however, has claimed it will “not be easy”.
Further talks between Mr Frost and Mr Barnier are advised to occur in London this week and in Brussels the second.
Meanwhile, the Michael Gove will be saying to be intensifying Whitehall preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
Government insiders say the Cabinet Office minister is “working around the clock” to guarantee the necessary legislation and border infrastructure is in place should the trade talks collapse.
A Whitehall source said Mr Gove was spending nearly all of his time on the preparations.
The insider said: “Plenty of the changes to get ready for the transition are happening regardless of whether we receive a trade deal; therefore the Cabinet Office is ramping up preparations.”