EU asks UK to make the necessary moves towards agreement

Progress is needed regarding the files on level playing field, governance and fisheries

Michel Barnier (L) and Charles Michel (R).

The state of play in the EU-UK negotiations was one of the pressing issues on the agenda of the European summit in Brussels on 15 and 16 October, along with climate change, Covid-19 coordination and EU-Africa ties. The main topic on Thursday was indeed taking stock of the implementation of the withdrawal agreement and reviewing the state of the negotiations on the future EU-UK partnership, and reflecting on all scenarios as of 1 January 2021, the day after UK's post-Brexit transition period expires.

EU leaders called on the UK to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible.

We are concerned by the lack of progress and we call on the UK to make the necessary moves, stated European Council President Charles Michel at a news conference after the first session of the summit.

He pointed out as well that the EU leaders are united and determined to reach an agreement but not at any cost, explaining that any agreement on the future relationship would have to be based on “our mandate, in particular when it comes to the level playing field, fisheries and governance”.

EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier emphasised that the EU is absolutely determined to reach a fair deal with the UK. “We will do everything we can, but not at any price,” he said, adding that together with his team he will continue intensive discussions over the coming weeks.

Our positions have been crystal clear from day one of this negotiation - if you want access to our market of 450 million people, there must be a level playing field, he asserted. There must be free and fair competition. It is clear from today's meeting that there is full unity between all Member States and we will remain calm, united, determined, Michel Barnier assured.

EC President Ursula von der Leyen had to leave the meeting earlier and did not take part at the news conference, as she was informed that a member of her front office has tested positive for Covid-19 on the same morning.

In their conclusions on the item, EU leaders recalled that the transition period will end on 31 December 2020 and noted with concern that progress on the key issues of interest to the Union is still not sufficient for an agreement to be reached.

They reaffirmed the Union's determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom on the basis of the negotiating directives of 25 February 2020, while respecting the previously agreed European Council guidelines, as well as statements and declarations, notably those of 25 November 2018, in particular as regards the level playing field, governance and fisheries.

The leaders also called upon Member States, EU institutions and all stakeholders to step up their work on preparedness and readiness at all levels and for all outcomes, including that of no agreement, and invited the Commission, in particular, to give timely consideration to unilateral and time-limited contingency measures that are in the EU's interest.

 

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