EU Officials Erase Brexit from Meeting Agenda Citing Scant Progress in Talks with Britain

August 27, 2020

A discussion about the negotiations over Britain and the European Union’s post-Brexit relationship has been dropped from the agenda of a meeting of EU envoys next week because the talks have stalled, an EU diplomat said on Wednesday.

Earlier, the Guardian reported that the issue would not be discussed at a meeting of ambassadors from the EU’s 27 member states, though diplomats said this referred to a regular meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives due on Sept. 2.

EU officials now believe the British government is prepared to risk a no-deal exit when the transition period comes to an end on Dec. 31, and will try to pin the blame on Brussels if talks fail, the Guardian report said.

The German government, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU council, had intended to discuss Brexit during the meeting, but dropped it because there had not been “any tangible progress” in the talks, the report said, citing an EU diplomat.

An EU diplomat with knowledge of the agenda confirmed that Brexit had been removed after last week’s round of talks between London and Brussels made little headway.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, on Wednesday repeated his call for a deal with Britain on future ties by the end of October.

He told Reuters on the sidelines of an employers’ conference in Paris that he had no plans to meet his British counterpart, David Frost, this week, before adding: “But perhaps next week, if conditions allow.”

Disagreements over state aid rules and fishing quotas have so far thwarted a deal, which the EU says must be in the making in time to be approved at an Oct. 15-16 summit of the bloc’s 27 national leaders to enable ratification this year.

Beyond the biggest stumbling blocks, differences also linger in discussions on migration, security, dispute-settling mechanisms, human rights guarantees and other areas.

(Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru and John Chalmers in Brussels; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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