Ahead of the third round of negotiations on the EU-UK Future Partnership, the EPP Group is worried by the lack of progress and calls on the UK Government to engage constructively in all areas of the negotiations“, said Christophe Hansen MEP, negotiator of the post-Brexit agreement in the European Parliament. 

The clock is ticking ever louder since we do not see any signal from across the channel to extend the transition period, yet progress in the negotiations is not forthcoming. The outstanding workload is colossal, especially as regards key areas such as the level playing field, cooperation on security, the overall governance of the future partnership and fisheries. Regarding the latter, the UK has put forward its proposal only last week. I fail to see how this delay corresponds to the more than ambitious timetable imposed by the UK and to the joint commitment taken in the Political Declaration to use the best endeavours to conclude and ratify an agreement on fisheries by the 1st of July…”, Hansen stressed. 

For Hansen this is symptomatic of a larger problem: “The UK Government’s reluctance over the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration does not bode well for the viability of the negotiations on the Future Partnership. The true litmus test for the good faith the UK brings to these negotiations remains the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. Deadlines are coming up very fast, and we need to see preparations start now, not only in December. The lack of progress combined with the refusal to extend the transition period, lends credit to the idea that the UK has chosen to pass off the impact of a no-deal Brexit as collateral damage of the pandemic – a strategy that I have thus far thought too reckless to be real. 

Turning to the start of negotiations between the UK and the US, Hansen commented: “I wish the UK well in this endeavour. However, juggling several negotiations while dealing with the fall-out of a pandemic, sounds ambitious. I hope that this won’t negatively impact the focus and resources the UK will be able to dedicate to the negotiations with its largest and closest market and neighbour.