London: The UK government announced on Wednesday that it was ready to resume post-Brexit trade talks with the European Union this week, following a phone conversation between UK chief negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier.
“On the basis of that conversation we are ready to welcome the EU team to London to resume negotiations later this week,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said in a statement.
According to it, Frost and Barnier discussed the implications of the latter’s early statement before the European Parliament, where he acknowledged that any future agreement will be made in respect of the decision-making autonomy of the EU and with respect for UK sovereignty.
The UK left the EU on January 31,
but as part of the withdrawal agreement, both sides entered an 11-month transition period to negotiate their future commercial relations.
Fishing quotas, the level-playing field — the set of common rules and standards designed to prevent businesses in one country from undercutting their rivals in other countries — and governance remain the sticking points after nine rounds of post-Brexit talks, so, Johnson said on Friday that the United Kingdom “should get ready” to leave the EU without a free trade agreement.
After unilaterally calling talks off, the UK then said that negotiations would only be resumed if Brussels takes an approach consistent with trying to find an agreement between sovereign equals and with acceptance that movements need to come from both sides, not only from the UK.
“As both sides have made clear, it takes two to reach an agreement. It is entirely possible that negotiations will not succeed. If so, the UK will end the transition period on Australia terms and will prosper in doing so,” Johnson’s office stressed on Wednesday, repeating an early call for UK businesses, hauliers and travellers to prepare “actively” for the end of the transition period on December 21, “since change is coming, whether an agreement is reached or not”.
If no trade deal is secured before year’s end, the World Trade Organization’s rules will come into effect starting in 2021, including customs tariffs and full border checks for UK goods entering the EU.