The UK missed Tuesday’s deadline to hand in 28 regulatory equivalency assessments to the EU relating to Britain’s financial service industry – a crucial sticking point in current trade negotiations. Brussels needs to use these documents to conclude whether it grants the city of London lucrative access to EU markets when the transition period ends on December 31, 2020. Earlier this week, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was left furious after confirming the UK had not completed the necessary equivalence assessments.
He said in a statement: “As you know, the political declaration committed us to ‘best endeavours’ to finalise our respective assessments by the end of June.
“The European Commission has therefore sent questionnaires to the UK, covering 28 areas where equivalence assessments are possible. So far, the UK has only answered four of these questionnaires. So we are not there yet.”
But the UK has instead blamed Brussels for the missed deadline, with the Government claiming it received the 1,000-plus pages of questions in April and May, with the last 248 pages arriving on May 25.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman insisted: “We have completed our own proportionate and thorough assessment of the EU on time.
“What we are doing is returning over 1,000 pages of questionnaires that were sent by the EU to the UK late.
“These are straightforward assessments as we start from having similar rules and a history of co-operation and we are ready to reach comprehensive findings of equivalence once the EU has clarified its position.”
The UK and EU are continuting talks in Brussels over a post-Brexit trade deal.
The Britain wants an agreement concluded within weeks, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned talks could stretch into the autumn.
FOLLOW EXPRESS.CO.UK FOR LIVE UPDATES:
8.36am update: German MP in vicious warning to Britain over no deal Brexit
Norbert Roettgen, Chairman of Germany’s Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee, has issued a huge warning to the UK over the damage a no deal Brexit would do to the country.
Speaking to channel 4 News on Wednesday evening, he said “both sides are to blame” if they both fail to reach an agreement.
Mr Roettgen admitted the prospect “would be disadvantageous to both sides” but it would “hit Britain much harder”.
He added: “We still can do something … we are living in a threatening, chaotic world and we have to stay together because unity means strength.
“Britain is alone – we are 27.”
8.15am update: Scotland Secretary in huge Brexit warning to MPs
Alistair Jack told MPs on Wednesday that Scottish ministers “need to wake up to the fact that we have left the EU and we will leave the transition period on the 31 December”.
He said in the Scottish parliament: “I know the Scottish Government don’t like the outcomes of referendums when they don’t go their way, but this is another one we’re delivering on.”
SNP MP Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) raised Brexit and a second referendum on Scottish independence, asking: “An opinion poll recently found that 63 percent of the Scottish people back a Brexit extension on top of an overwhelming majority who opposed a Brexit disaster in its entirety.
“The Secretary of State’s probably seen an opinion poll that finds 54% of the Scottish people now want an independent Scotland.
“What does the Secretary of State believe links these opinion polls and what does it tell him about where our country’s headed?”
Mr Jack replied: “I think the whole House would like to congratulate him on giving up his own independence getting engaged last weekend.
“The answer is that we had a general election, we had resounding majority across the UK for a manifesto that said we would leave, we would honour the result of the referendum.
“We are going to honour that result, we’re going to take back control of our laws, our borders, our money and we’re going to leave the hated Common Fisheries Policy – here’s the independent bit for (him) we’re going to become an independent coastal state.”
8.08am update: UK ‘prepared for either eventuality’ with Brexit deal – Downing Street
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “We believe that there is a free trade agreement to be reached but we have also been very clear that we will be prepared for either eventuality at the end of the year, whether that be a free trade agreement or having a trading relationship based on the same terms that Australia currently has.”
Downing Street added a “very significant” number of firms were already preparing for Britain leaving the customs union and single market – whether or not a trade deal is agreed with thew EU.
The UK had also “learned a significant amount” from the preparations for a potential no-deal Brexit at the end of October 2019 “and we will ensure that we are ready to exit the transition period on December 31”.
Angela Merkel has warned the European Union to prepare for trade talks with Britain to end without a deal.
Speaking in the German parliament, she insisted the bloc must prepare for the future relationship negotiations ending without an agreement.
The German Chancellor said: “I will continue to work for a good solution, but we, in the EU and in Germany, must also be prepared for the case that an agreement will not happen after all.”
The veteran leader was updating politicians on her priorities as Germany takes over the EU’s rotating presidency.
Mrs Merkel said only “minimal” progress had been made between Britain and Brussels during the previous five rounds of trade negotiations.
She claimed talks could run into the autumn despite Downing Street repeatedly insisting a deal should be wrapped up this summer.
Published at Thu, 02 Jul 2020 06:35:00 +0000