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Brexit and the outcome of the second round of UK-EU negotiations

You can read what you want to read into the separate statements published on 24 April 2020  by the UK and the EU sides at the end of their second round of  talks  for a new post-transition UK-EU period relationship, 

The UK Government's statement was predictably much shorter than the EU statement. The UK referred to some "limited progress" on a proposed free trade agreement in goods but appeared to repeat its accusation that the EU side were not treating the UK as "sovereign equals". The EU statement reminded readers of the need to adhere to the terms and spirit of the the Political Declaration and appeared to accuse the UK side of continuing to engage seriously on a number of fundamental points, including "level playing field", fisheries and administration of justice issues. Michel Barnier, leading the EU team, also appeared to accuse the UK of continuing to run down the clock by refusing an extension to the transition period beyond 31December 2020 whilst at the same time slowing down the progress of negotiations in key areas. He also appeared to express  concern about the apparent lack of progress on the UK side in proposing measures to deal with the internal UK implementation of the terms of the Ireland/Northern Protocol to the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK appears to want separate deals on separate issues. The WU appears to want one integrated deal. This difference of approach is quite fundamental...or is it simple casuistry?

Some people might think that one or both sides are behaving rather childishly when both the UK and the EU and indeed the whole human race are facing immense challenges as result of Covid-19.

The talks, which were conducted by videoconference, lasted the whole of the working week commencing 20 April 2020 and perhaps even that was not quite long enough and the parties should bear in mind the words of the traditional nursery rhyme:-

Monday's child is fair of face

Tuesday's child is full of grace

Wednesday's child is full of woe

Thursday's child has far to go

Friday's child is loving and giving

Saturday's child works hard of living

But the child who is born on the Sabbath day 

Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

It may seem to some that Wednesday and Thursday's children are in the ascendant at the moment where the UK-EU negotiations are concerned.

One perhaps more positive development is that both the UK House of Commons and the UK House of Lords have re-organised their UK-EU talks scrutiny functions so that there are 4 rather than 6 sub-committees each reporting to their main committees on the progress (or lack of progress) of the UK-EU talks.

The UK and EU negotiating teams have scheduled two further formal rounds of weekly negotiations before the end of June 2020 to try and make progress in their negotiations. Let us hope that that these rounds will be sufficient to break current areas of deadlock.