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MNI EXCLUSIVE: EU-UK Deal Still Faces Big Hurdles – EU Source

(MNI) Brussels

Intensified talks between the EU and UK to reach a Brexit trade deal continue to confront three major sticking points on which the two sides still hold very different views, an EU source close to the talks told MNI.

While the "dynamic" of the negotiations "has definitely changed", there was nothing new in terms of landing zones on the issues of fishing, level playing field guarantees and enforcement.

"In terms of content nothing has changed and there are still very different views on either side on the three key sticking points," the source said. "Fisheries was always tricky and political but it was manageable, but has now become more prominent and public."


On state aids, the source said the prospect of the UK government not publishing its policy until next year made it "difficult for the UK government to commit to common principles," giving rise to the thought that "maybe they delay so they can't commit to common principles."

"We will talk intensively but, in terms of content, we are where we are," the source said. "It doesn't mean we get a satisfactory result. We are running very late. I haven't heard that any side has changed views. We will see how much of a block there is on either side."

"There is no indication at the level of (EU) leaders that we should soften in order to get a deal," the source said.


The source said there was no schedule to the renewed talks, which were "open-ended" and "around the clock". They would "just evolve" without any publication of calendars or the regular press briefings EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has delivered in the past.

The source even suggested the talks could spill over beyond the end of the UK's transition period out of the EU single market and customs union and into 2021, with the possibility that "a bit of chaos" could "be a helpful catalyst".

But the EU is "conscious of enormous and potentially irreparable damage to business that would occur as firms make decisions to change suppliers or seek new export markets," the course added. "It would be good for the tactics of the negotiations, not so good for business."

MNI Brussels Bureau |
MNI Brussels Bureau |

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