A level Playing Field refereed by the EU’s judges and the effective continuation of the Common Fisheries Policy stand in the way of reaching a trade agreement, unless these demands are bent, or the UK caves in.
There is not a lot of Brexit news to review at the moment except that with deadlines approaching the UK Government is, so far, holding to its three red lines: no mandatory regulation from Brussels, no ceding of fishing rights over British waters and no foreign rule by the CJEU. A fishing deal is supposed to be concluded by July and everything else by October to give time for all EU, national and regional parliaments to agree by December 31st, 2020.
The EU has always claimed that trade deals take far longer than the time remaining before the Transition Period is due to end and with the pandemic restricting negotiations further it will be impossible. Having made no concessions himself (perhaps because he would need a new mandate) he insists that Britain must show flexibility, but the UK is now asking for nothing that the EU hasn’t agreed with other blocs and nations already, so scissors and paste—plus the will to make a fair agreement—are all that’s needed.
EU rules have already been passed into UK law but if unfair competition arises in some areas due to state support, changes to employment law, lower corporate tax or whatever else might upset the level playing field (LPF) then apply tariffs in those areas, says David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator. The UK has shown flexibility therefore, including also the massive concession to let Northern Ireland remain in the Single Market. On the other hand Parliament has also enacted a law saying there can be no flexibility on extending the transition yet again, and what would be the point if the EU ‘rests its case’ exactly where it is, which is all that has happened so far?
So negotiations have been going nowhere but the UK side is hoping more progress will be made when face to face meetings resume this month. Perhaps Frost could break the ice with his opposite number Barnier and bring a smile to his face by summarising the whole case in song form – it might not do any good but how could it be worse? If Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich are willing to agree he could try this updated version of their 1966 hit, Bend It .
The original DDBMT lyrics: