Taoiseach hopes to see Brexit trade deal outline by end of week

ireland
Micheál Martin said he sensed trade negotiations were making progress. Photo: Johanna Geron/AFP via Getty
Share this article

By David Hughes and Shaun Connolly, PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he hopes the outline of a Brexit free trade deal will have emerged by the end of the week.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin, he added that he got a sense from both UK and European Union negotiating teams that they had made progress.

The talks, led by Michel Barnier and Boris Johnson’s lead negotiator David Frost, had been paused after one of the EU team tested positive for coronavirus.

The negotiations are now taking place online, with Mr Barnier warning that “time is short” to reach a deal which needs to be approved before the transition arrangements expire at the end of the year.

The resumption of negotiations follows technical discussions over the weekend.

Mr Barnier said: “Time is short. Fundamental divergences still remain, but we are continuing to work hard for a deal.”

The UK leaves the EU’s single market and customs union at the end of the year and without an agreement there could be tariffs and quotas imposed on trade with the bloc.

Any deal would need to be approved by the EU’s leaders and MEPs and reports have suggested an emergency session of the European Parliament could be held as late as December 28th to vote on it.

Problematic issues including fishing rights, the “level playing field” aimed at preventing unfair competition in areas such as workers’ rights and state subsidies and the governance of any deal are yet to be resolved.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson talked up the chances of a post-Brexit UK-Australia free trade deal being secured.

The British prime minister was speaking after his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison received an accolade at a virtual Policy Exchange think tank event.

Advertisement

Mr Johnson said the two nations had strong rivalries in sport, but “there is a huge amount that unites us”.

He joked an agreement between the UK and Australia would see an exchange of chocolate biscuits in the form of British Penguins and Australian Tim Tams.

He said: “And, of course, there is also the small matter of free trade.

“And, I am delighted that we are doing a deal, I hope that we will be able to conclude a deal, that will see, finally, the people of Britain able to access the supplies of Tim Tams – Tim Tam chocolate biscuits – in the quantities that we need.

“And the people of Australia able to get Penguins in exchange.

“Here’s to the UK-Australia free trade deal.”

A technology glitch stopped Mr Johnson virtually presenting the award to Mr Morrison, but he came back into the event after the Australian PM made a speech praising international co-operation.

Mr Johnson – who is self-isolating after coming into contact with a Tory MP who tested positive for coronavirus – had been set to introduce Mr Morrison as he received the inaugural Grotius Prize.

World
UK should not go for Brexit deal at any price, say...
Read More

The think tank said Mr Morrison received the award “in recognition of his work in support of the international rules-based order”.

Advertisement

Mr Johnson’s comments come after Britain and Canada agreed to continue trading under the same terms as the current EU deal after the Brexit transition period ends at the close of the year.

The British government said the move clears the way for talks to begin next year on a new comprehensive deal with Canada. – Additonal reporting: Reuters

Read More

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© BreakingNews.ie 2021, developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com