Still time to reach ambitious UK-EU trade deal - Minister

European affairs – Brexit – Interview given by Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to the daily newspaper Les Echos (excerpt)

Paris, 28 September 2020

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THE MINISTER – If there is still a chance to reach an agreement we must seize it; that’s the best scenario. But in order to do so we need reciprocal goodwill and openness. We still believe in that. We haven’t left the negotiation table, despite the tensions of recent days caused by the House of Commons vote on the UK internal market, which goes back on the withdrawal agreement already signed. We’re demanding an amendment to or the withdrawal of this bill, because you can’t build the future relationship without a serious guarantee about full compliance with the withdrawal agreement. The European Parliament has been clear in indicating that if that weren’t the case, it wouldn’t vote for the agreement on the future relationship. We’re being neither naïve nor passive…

Q. – Is there still enough time to reach an ambitious agreement?

THE MINISTER – Yes, there’s still time between now and the end of the year. There were some weeks of technical negotiations on many issues. Regarding fisheries, I repeat that this is a priority and there will be no separate agreement on the issue: it’s not an adjustment variable. The British say they’ve understood that, but in practice it isn’t reflected in their demands. The path to division in Europe doesn’t exist, even if some people in London are tempted to look for it.

Q. – How would you rate the chances of an agreement, on a scale of one to 10?

THE MINISTER – I want to believe they’re a little above five! (…)./.

Published on 29/09/2020

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