Final UK-EU trade talks begin this week


Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves number 10 Downing Street.

Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — EU and U.K. officials are about to start what’s meant to be the final round of Brexit trade negotiations before a self-imposed deadline of Oct. 15.

Talks have been stalled over competition rules and fishing quotas for months now, but British officials have signaled there may have been some “positive” developments in the last few days.

“The question is really whether or not they can come up with some agreement on (a) level playing field,” Kallum Pickering, a chief U.K. economist at Berenberg, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”

“I don’t think a deal is going to be lost on fisheries,” he added.

The U.K. and the EU have been working toward new trade arrangements since March after the former exited the bloc in January. However, Britain stated that talks would only run until December — after which the current zero-tariff regime will come to an end.

In order to get parliamentary approval for any new trade regime before that deadline, both sides have said they would need to seal a deal in October.

Previous negotiations on Brexit have seen dramatic last-ditch talks on several occasions. The last time they found themselves in this position was in Oct. 2019 and the impasse was only broken after a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the former Irish leader Leo Varadkar.

“What you need is some political intervention, some kind of compromise in order to push things through,” Pickering told CNBC.

Current talks have been complicated by a plan from the U.K. government to challenge already-legislated commitments with the European Union — something that could ultimately prevent a breakthrough.

The Internal Market Bill — the legislation that would grant powers to any U.K. government to ignore what’s already been agreed with the EU on state aid — will move to the House of Lords Wednesday.

The upper chamber in the U.K. Parliament could ask for changes to the bill in a way that, if approved, could overcome the standoff with Brussels.

Michael Gove, a member of the U.K. government, is meeting European officials in Brussels at 12 p.m. local time Monday, to discuss where this controversial legislation stands.

The EU has made it clear that it will not accept the Bill in its current form for breaching laws that both sides of the English Channel signed earlier this year.

France’s Europe Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said over the weekend the chances of a trade deal stand “slightly” above 50%. 



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