The Government has made a commitment to update Parliament on the progress of our future relationship negotiations with the EU. This statement provides an update on the third round of negotiations. It also notes that the UK’s draft legal texts are being made public today.
Negotiators from the UK and the EU held discussions through video conferencing on 11 – 15 May 2020 for the third round of negotiations on the UK-EU future relationship. This was a full and constructive negotiating round, covering the full range of issues with both sides discussing full legal texts. 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 11 May. There were then discussions across all the issues and the session closed with a further plenary on 15 May.
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 –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, all principally on the basis of the draft Fisheries Framework Agreement provided to the EU the previous week.
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; unaccompanied asylum-seeking children; cyber security; and security of information.
Participation in Union Programmes - General terms for UK participation in programmes, including provisions for financial contribution.
“Level Playing Field” - Including subsidies, competition policy, and trade and sustainable development.
Horizontal Issues - Governance arrangements, territorial scope.
Discussions showed that a standard Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, with other key agreements on issues like law enforcement, civil nuclear, and aviation alongside, all in line with the Political Declaration, could be agreed without major difficulties in the time available.
However, there remain some areas where we have significant differences of principle – notably fisheries, governance arrangements, and the so-called “level playing field”. It remains difficult to reach a mutually beneficial agreement while the EU maintains an ideological approach.
In order to facilitate discussions in the fourth Round and beyond, the Government is today making publicly available the draft legal texts we have shared with the Commission and which have formed the basis of our discussions, together of course with the EU’s draft Agreement. The UK texts are fully in line with the Government’s document “The Approach to the Future Negotiations” published on 27 February. Copies of the legal texts have been placed in the House Library and they are also available on GOV.UK.
This Government remains committed to a deal with a Free Trade Agreement at its core. We look forward to the fourth Round beginning on 1 June.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords