EU and UK trade deal negotiators to face the media after first round of talks

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost will hold a news conference in Brussels today to

barnier brexit trade deal

Photo: John Thys/AFP

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost will hold a news conference in Brussels today to wrap up the first round of talks on the future of the EU-UK relationship.

Looming over these preliminary discussions are UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s threats to walk away from the talks if there is a lack of progress by June, when London must decide whether it will extend the transition period.

Brussels claims it will not be pressured into an unfavourable deal. It insists on maintaining its current fishing rights in British waters and wants London to agree to a number of EU regulations, including environmental standards, workers’ rights and state aid rules.

Any threat to the transition period will not come until after the next set of talks in two weeks. Should the UK decide to walk away, and the year passes with no deal, the EU and the UK would then trade on World Trade Organisation terms, which would see tariffs and other restrictions imposed for the first time in decades. Since the UK strongly relies on trade with the EU, London will likely compromise on issues like fishing rights for negotiations to continue, even if the UK’s June deadline is not met.

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