Negotiators from the UK and the EU held discussions through video conferencing on 20 – 24 April 2020 for the second round of negotiations on the UK-EU future relationship.
Prior to the Round both sides shared legal texts, on the basis of which there were some clarificatory discussions in order to ensure that the Round was as well prepared as possible. The UK has shared the following texts: a full draft Free Trade Agreement, and separate draft Agreements on energy, law enforcement and criminal justice cooperation, air transport, air safety, civil nuclear, and social security coordination. In accordance with normal negotiating practice, the Government has not made these texts public, but keeps this issue under close review and would be ready to do so at a moment when it helped the negotiating dynamics.
This was a full and constructive negotiating round, with both sides adapting positively to the new remote ways of working. The round was opened by the UK’s Chief Negotiator, David Frost, and by the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, in a plenary session on 20 April. There were then discussions across all the issues and the session closed with a further plenary on 24 April.
Discussions covered all workstreams including:
- Trade in Goods – market access and rules of origin, trade remedies, customs, technical barriers to trade and SPS.
- Trade in Services – Cross-border trade in services, investment, temporary entry for business purposes, professional qualifications, professional and business services, financial services and digital.
- Fisheries – discussion on control and enforcement, conservation and sustainable exploitation, and scientific evidence.
- Transport – Aviation and aviation safety, road haulage and passenger transport.
- Energy – Civil nuclear cooperation, gas and electricity trading, climate change and carbon pricing.
- Mobility and Social Security Coordination – including the UK’s legal text on social security coordination.
- Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice– UK presentation of the UK Law Enforcement Treaty with detailed discussions on operational capabilities.
- Thematic cooperation – Covering health security; asylum and illegal migration; cyber security; and security of information.
- Participation in Union Programmes - General terms for UK participation in programmes, including provisions for financial contribution.
- So called Level Playing Field - Including subsidies, competition policy, and trade and sustainable development.
- Horizontal Issues - Governance arrangements, territorial scope.
Discussions showed that there was some promising convergence in the core areas of a Free Trade Agreement, but there remain some areas where we have significant differences of principle – notably fisheries, the so-called “level playing field”, and governance and dispute settlement. Progress in these areas will require the EU to engage with the political realities of the UK as an independent state.
This Government remains committed to a deal with a Free Trade Agreement at its core. We look forward to negotiating constructively in the next Round beginning 11 May.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords