EU-UK trade negotiations on future relationship planned for today

Representatives from the UK and EU will meet today in Brussels to begin the first of several negotiating rounds regarding

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Photo: Oliver Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

Representatives from the UK and EU will meet today in Brussels to begin the first of several negotiating rounds regarding a comprehensive trade deal.

The series of small group meetings, which will focus on specialised topics of contention and continue into September, is intended to invigorate talks on a broad free trade agreement (FTA), which must be passed before December 31.

Though UK PM Boris Johnson has forecast a July finalisation of the agreement, both London and Brussels are reluctant to concede on key issues, namely economic and business competition regulations. After a leading British negotiator dismissed EU demands regarding fishing territories as “unrealistic”, Johnson threatened to abandon talks and opt for a set of sector-specific trade agreements similar to Australia’s arrangement with the bloc.

Expect the EU to stand firm on level playing field provisions after July 1, when export-heavy Germany assumes the EU Council presidency. Berlin will likely seek to prevent London from employing tactics like heavy state aid to create unfair business conditions for EU exporters.

While this first negotiating round represents a significant step towards sincere discussion, the extent to which FTA progress will be attained remains opaque, but a clearer picture should emerge by the end of July as talks continue.

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