Huge divergence remains in UK-EU trade talks: EU negotiator

EYEAFRICA TV: Brussels, Belgium: There is still serious divergence between the European Union and the UK despite agreements on some cases, said EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier after the first round of UK-EU trade talks ended on Thursday.

The trade talks began on Monday in Brussels, Belgium. Barnier, who is responsible for “Brexit” affairs, said Thursday that the atmosphere of the negotiations was constructive, and the two sides reached an agreement on some issues, but there is still huge divergence on a level playing field, the trade agreement itself, and several other issues including fisheries.

In the UK-Europe trade negotiations, the EU hopes to reach a unified package agreement, including fishery and other fields. The British side argued that there should be multiple separate agreements based on industries and issues.

In terms of fisheries, Britain believes that fishery goods should be part of a free trade agreement and states that territorial waters are part of the sovereignty of the country, which must be defended. The EU hopes that after the transition period ends, the current status of EU vessels freely entering and fishing in British waters will be maintained.

Britain formally withdrew from the EU on Jan 31, and then entered a transitional period. UK’s trade with the EU will maintain its present status till the end of this year. The two sides hope to reach an agreement on future cooperation in the fields of trade and security before the end of the transition period.

It is reported that the next round of negotiations between the two sides will be held in London in late March.

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