UK-EU trade negotiations begin in Brussels
Negotiations over a future UK-EU trade deal begin on Monday afternoon, as chief UK negotiator David Frost and his team head to Brussels.
A delegation of 100 advisers and civil servants have travelled, forming 11 different groups focussing on different aspects of negotiations.
The first round of negotiations will take place over four days, and they will recur once every two to three weeks from now until the summer, alternating between Brussels and London.
A deal must be agreed and signed off by December 31, when the Brexit transition period ends, otherwise UK-EU trade will default to World Trade Organization terms.
A number of disagreements in the run-up to talks have the potential to cause clashes during negotiations, including the UK’s rejection of signing up to a level playing field on EU regulations covering various issues, differences in opinion over fishing rights, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice [ECJ].
The EU is known to favour striking one comprehensive deal which will cover all aspects of the future relationship between the UK and the bloc. However, the UK wants separate agreements to be made with the bloc to cover issues such as fishing.
The EU would like continued access to UK waters, while Boris Johnson’s government wants a new quota agreement.
Meanwhile, the EU wants the European Court of Justice to be given the power to police the agreement by having the final word on all aspects relating to EU law. However, the UK does not wish to give the ECJ any such influence.
Should the “broad outline” of a deal not be in place by June, the UK government has indicated that it is willing to abandon talks and begin preparing for WTO terms to be enacted.
Issues that will be discussed in the first round of negotiations this week include trade in goods and services, transport, energy, fisheries and "fair and open competition”.