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Trade talks between the two sides got underway in March following Britain’s official departure from the bloc on January 31. But negotiations have turned increasingly bitter, with the EU and the UK trading crushing blows following the culmination of four rounds of talks. Earlier today, EU chief negotiator Mr Barnier again lashed out at the UK and lamented the lack of progress being made in trade negotiations, accusing the UK of backtracking on a crucial commitment that is shaping current talks.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator claimed the British team are continuously looking “to distance themselves” from the political declaration agreed by Boris Johnson last year.
He told a press conference in Brussels both sides are still very far” from reaching agreement on the level playing field, nuclear safety, anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism funding, and a “overarching institutional framework” for the future relationship.
Mr Barnier said: “In all areas, the UK continues to backtrack under commitments undertaken in the political declaration, including on fisheries.
“We cannot and will not accept this backtracking on the political declaration.”
But Raoul Ruparel, former Europe advisor to both David Davis and Theresa May and an influential presence in Brexit talks under the former Prime Minister, has lambasted the EU for “cherry picking” from the political declaration.
Following the conclusion of the latest round of talks today, he tweeted: “Unsurprisingly, little progress. Now at the stage where political intervention is needed.
“Barnier referencing political declaration is tiresome for a number of reasons, not least because EU used to see it as entirely irrelevant & they are cherry picking it as well.
“For much of past three years the EU side have seen the political declaration as a sop to the UK to try to help get the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament.
“They have not only briefed this but made it clear to those of us in negotiations. Position now is quite hypocritical.”
In a series of tweets, Mr Ruparel also sites paragraph of the Political Declaration under the section ‘Level playing field for open and fair competition’.
The first two paragraphs of this section state: “Given the Union and European Union’s geographic proximity and economic independence, the future must ensure open and fair competition, encompassing robust commitments to ensure a level playing field.
“The precise nature of commitments should be commensurate with the scope and depth of the future relationship and the economic connectedness of the Parties.”
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But tweeting this section of the political declaration, Mr Ruparel wrote alongside it: “Barnier cites para 77 of the PD. But he always only mentions the first sentence not the second sentence, as highlighted below. This is surely just as equally important.
“He continued in further tweets: his was largely lifted from the PD negotiated under Theresa May, whom I advised.
“It was obvious to all involved at the time it was fudge to account for differing views. The EU always focused on the connectedness, while the UK focused on the scope/depth of the relationship.
“So the idea that it obviously meant one thing as presented by Barnier is not in my view correct.
“Furthermore, even if both sentences are taken as being concrete, it is not obvious why one trumps the other as Barnier suggests. Its his subjective reading of the PD.
“Barnier referenced lack of progress on fisheries given PD sets aim of reaching agreement by July.
“However, he continues to ignore the commitment to seek to take financial services equivalence decisions by end of June. Focusing on what he cares about but it is still selective.”
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