EU, UK agree ‘momentum’ needed to wrap Brexit talks up

Brussels, Jun 15 (efe-epa).- The European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed to intensify Brexit talks following London’s decision to reject an extension to the transition period despite the backdrop of coronavirus adding to the complicated negotiations.

With Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party government sticking to its plan to end the transition period on 31 December, a year after the UK formally left the bloc, the clock is ticking for both sides of the discussion table to land on a final agreement on their future relationship.

The heads of the EU’s Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the Council Charles Michel and Parliament David Sassoli spoke with Johnson via videolink Monday to analyze the scant progress made in talks so far.

“The Parties noted the UK’s decision not to request any extension to the transition period. The transition period will therefore end on 31 December 2020, in line with the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement,” a joint statement released after the meeting said.

“The Parties agreed nevertheless that new momentum was required.”

Earlier in the month, the EU’s top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier offered a frank press conference in which he said there had been a lack of concrete progress in discussions and accused the UK government of distancing itself from previous agreements.

The UK technically has until 1 July to request an extension to the negotiation period bringing it to the end of 2021 or 2022.

According to the statement Monday, the EU and the UK “supported the plans agreed by Chief Negotiators to intensify the talks in July and to create the most conducive conditions for concluding and ratifying a deal before the end of 2020.”

“This should include, if possible, finding an early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement,” it added.

The EU and the UK are due to hold meetings every week in July in London or Brussels. There will be another session in Brussels between 17-21 August.

Barnier has said that if the UK decided not to extend the transition period, then the parties should agree on a final deal by 31 October.

The French politician said there was progress to be made on the topic of market competition, civil nuclear programs and fishing policies, among others.

Following the meeting, Council leader Michel tweeted: “Ready to put a tiger in the tank but not to buy a pig in a poke. Level playing field is essential.”

Coining an English phrase, the Belgian was saying the EU would not accept a bad deal with the UK.

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