Robert HARNEIS -TDO-(FRANCE)- The UK has started the third round of Brexit talks with the EU. Deal breaking items fisheries and level-playing field rules are on the agenda.

The UK and EU have begun the penultimate round of trade negotiations today by video conference. Talks cover trade in goods and services, fisheries, transport and aviation, energy and other subjects. This round of talks is likely to be highly contentious, with the EU pushing for a comprehensive deal including fisheries, security, and the so called level playing field guarantees, while the UK favors a separate agreement on fisheries based upon scientific data and no forced regulatory alignment.

The UK Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to prolong the current transition period and will reassess the progress of the talks at the end of June, walking away if the EU continues to make unacceptable demands and if an agreement is unlikely. The UK would then leave on WTO rules.

Lead UK negotiator David Frost will insist that the deadlocked trade talks must be completed over the next month as the government will not extend them. Johnson fears that if Britain extends the deadline for trade talks, the UK could find itself caught up in a huge programme of EU legislation. A UK government spokesman told The Times “Clearly as the EU looks to deal with the impacts of coronavirus on the 27 member states, they will need to propose all kinds of new legislation which will obviously be designed for the 27,” and that “An extension to the transition period would bind us into future EU legislation, without us having any say in designing it.” The EU commission is currently preparing a big legislative programme to try and shore up the single market amid coronavirus disruption.

There is also the danger of being embroiled in any rescue of the Euro that may become necessary.

Following Michel Barnier’s accusations of trade talks stalling from the UK side, David Frost has put forward a legal text that aims to focus this round of negotiations. The fisheries talks are seen as one of the biggest hurdles as the British proposal is based on the “existing precedent of the EU’s current fisheries agreement with Norway,” whilst the EU has continually rejected such an idea, in an attempt to keep its lucrative access to British waters, which it allegedly overfishes.

A major source of discord is the UK demand for a series of separate arrangements and the EU’s demand for a single agreement.

Part of the problem with the negotiations is that the EU are having difficulty in recognizing that the UK is now a free agent and very determined to act like one.

There have been a series of comments from the EU side suggesting an extension of the transition period is inevitable. Meanwhile the UK is also starting trade talks with the United States.

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