EU being 'unnecessarily difficult' in trade talks - No 10

31 August 2020, 18:52

The UK has accused the EU of preventing progress in post-Brexit trade talks
The UK has accused the EU of preventing progress in post-Brexit trade talks. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The European Union has been "making it unnecessarily difficult" for post-Brexit trade talks to progress, Downing Street has said.

A spokeswoman for No 10 hit back at French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who claimed negotiations were not advancing because of the "intransigent and unrealistic attitude of the United Kingdom".

She accused the EU of deliberately stalling talks on the future trade ties between the two parties, with just four months until the transition period ends on 31 December.

The spokeswoman listed a number of areas where there are disagreements between the UK and the EU, including fisheries policy, legal texts, negotiation timelines and EU state aid.

Mr Le Drian told France's ambassadors that the bloc of 27 nations will not give in to pressure coming from London.

"On Brexit, we always showed unity and proved wrong those who saw signs of an overall implosion of Europe. It is in staying united that we can stick to our line of a global accord," he said.

Read more: Advisory groups set up to aid UK post-Brexit trade talks

Read more: Brexit deal will 'not be easy to achieve', says UK chief negotiator

However, the UK Government responded to the claims from the French foreign minister, accusing the EU of preventing progress in negotiations.

A spokeswoman said: "We have been clear from the outset about the principles underlying the UK approach: we are seeking a relationship that respects our sovereignty and which has a free trade agreement at its core, similar to those the EU has already agreed with like-minded countries.

"However, the EU is still insisting not only that we must accept continuity with EU state aid and fisheries policy, but also that this must be agreed before any further substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts, making it unnecessarily difficult to make progress.

"We will continue to work hard to reach agreement and look forward to the next round taking place next week."