#Brexit – Barnier calls for ‘real and tangible’ progress in joint statement

| April 15, 2020

EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and UK negotiator David Frost resume discussions, 15 April

Today (15 April) the EU and UK recommenced their discussions by video conference and scheduled the next negotiating rounds. Barnier noted that “proper and timely” implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement was a key priority for both sides, writes Catherine Feore

Talks resumed following Michel Barnier’s speedy recovery from COVID-19; during this time, his team were able to make some progress with clarification on language and the identification of areas of divergence and convergence. A joint statement was published after the meeting.

Barnier and Frost also discussed the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. They welcomed the fact that a first meeting of the Joint Committee had taken place between Michael Gove and Maroš Šefčovič (30 March) and they looked forward to its next meeting.  They agreed that the proper and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement was a key priority for both sides and noted that the Specialized Committees provided for by the Agreement, including on the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland and on citizens’ rights, would meet soon.

Brextension

The transition period is due to expire at the end of this year. That deadline already appeared very difficult to some, especially those businesses most effected like the automotive sector and freight services. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic this timing appears to be more unrealistic than ever.

On 7 April the UK’s chief negotiator tweeted to “reassure people” that work was continuing despite the pandemic.

The UK has had to divert huge resources to addressing the pandemic. The European Commission, though also heavily involved in mitigating the pandemic and assisting states in addressing questions like state aid, is not itself burdened to the same extent. Brexit-supporting commentators close to the UK government have suggested that an extension may be inevitable.

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