Negotiations on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom

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Publication Date 2020
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Overview, reports and analyses relating the negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) on a post-Brexit relationship.

Further information:

The United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union on 1 February 2020. A Withdrawal Agreement entered into force and provides for a transition period until the end of the year (unless a Joint Committee adopts a decision extending that transition period). A Political Declaration accompanying the Withdrawal Agreement is to serve as the basis for negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. This document highlights that such partnership should cover trade and economic cooperation as well as other areas, such as security, defence and foreign policy.

The European Commission adopted a Recommendation for a Council on opening negotiations with the UK on 3 February 2020, including the negotiating directives. The Council adopted that Decision on 25 February with minor amendments. The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out in broad terms his vision for the future EU-UK relationship on 3 February. On 17 February, the UK chief negotiator David Frost addressed an audience in Brussels where his vision for a trade agreement with the EU was also set out. The UK Government eventually released its initial negotiating stance on 27 February.

The first round of negotiations took place on 2 March 2020, in Brussels. The second round was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a joint statement on 12 March. Alternative meeting arrangements were sought during the sanitary crisis. On 18 March, the European Commission published a draft legal agreement translating the negotiating mandate agreed at an earlier stage.

As the coronavirus outbreak unfolded, media outlets and analysts discussed on the possibility for an extension to the negotiations beyond the date set for 31 December 2020. The chief negotiations took stock on 15 April via video-conference of the technical work conducted since the first negotiating round on the basis of the legal texts exchanged by both sides. They also agreed on a calendar of the next rounds of talks.

The next rounds of negotiations were held on the following dates:

  • Second round (20-24 April)
  • Third round (11-15 May)
  • Fourth round (2-5 June)
  • "Restricted" round (29 June-3 July)

Throughout these rounds of talks, deep divisions between both sides on fundamental matters were highlighted by stakeholders and media outlets. A debate on the absence of an agreement by the end of the year emerged among analysts and businesses showed their concern. During the second meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee under the Withdrawal Agreement on 12 June, the UK reaffirmed its intention not to seek an extension to the talks. A high-level meeting between the UK Prime Ministers and the leaders of the EU's main institutions was held on 15 June. On 18 June, the plenary of the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the state of negotiations.

A "restricted" round of negotiations was held from 29 June to 3 July. On 9 July, the European Commission published guidance on readiness at the end of the transition period introduced by the Withdrawal Agreement. Following the sixth round of talks on 20-23 July, the EU's chief negotiator highlighted it became increasingly unlikely that an agreement could be reached within the deadline. The seventh round was held on 18-21 August and concluded without a breakthrough in the negotiations. The eight round was held on 8-10 September, taking place in the shadow of a bill introduced by the UK Government on the UK Internal Market aiming to change some of the provisions of the Northern Ireland protocol.

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
Wikipedia: Trade deal negotiation between the UK and EU
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The Conversation, 30/01/2020: Brexit: here’s what happens next
EU Law Analysis, 30/01/2020: Avoiding the next Brexit Cliff-Edge: Extending the Transition Period for the UK after 1 July 2020
Chatham House: Expert Comment, 31/01/2020: In Next Round of EU Negotiations, Britain Faces Familiar Pitfalls
LSE: Brexit Blog, 31/01/2020: Brexit is done? Brexit has only just begun
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BBC News, 04/02/2020: UK vs EU: What both sides want from a post-Brexit trade deal
CEPS: In Brief, 04/02/2020: Building an EU-UK special relationship
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LSE: Brexit Blog, 10/02/2020: It’s the autonomy, stupid – can the EU and UK agree the rules of a future relationship?
UK in a Changing Europe: Analysis, 11/02/2020: The financial services sector will be key as the trade negotiations begin
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LSE: Brexit Blog, 13/02/2020: Employment and social policy will be a sticking point in negotiations between London and Brussels
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The Spectator: Blog, 17/02/2020: Boris’s chief Brexit negotiator urges EU to rethink its red lines
RTÉ News, 18/02/2020: 5 key points from David Frost's Brussels speech
EUObserver, 19/02/2020: Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end
EPRS: Briefing, February 2020: Future EU-UK trade relationship
The Guardian, 25/02/2020: Why chlorinated chicken is centre of the table in UK-EU talks
Bloomberg, 26/02/2020: Boris Johnson and the EU Are Talking Past Each Other, Again
Forbes, 27/02/2020: Boris Johnson’s Short Attention Span Risks Undermining The UK’s Post-Brexit Trade Negotiations
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BBC News, 27/02/2020: UK nears acid test in trade talks with EU
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The Economist, 05/03/2020: The gaps between the EU and Britain are wide—and time is short
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LSE: Brexit Blog, 09/09/2020: How the Brexit negotiations can end without war being declared

BBC News: Topics: EU-UK Post-Brexit trade talks
Deutsche Welle, 31/01/2020: A divided Britain enters new era as it leaves the European Union
EurActiv, 31/01/2020: ‘Dawn of a new era’, says Johnson as UK exits EU
Politico, 02/02/2020: UK hardens rhetoric ahead of trade talks with Brussels
Deutsche Welle, 03/02/2020: EU, UK begin post-Brexit poker on trade talks
The Guardian, 03/02/2020: UK and EU set out contrasting goals for post-Brexit trade deal
Sky News, 16/02/2020: Government dismisses EU trade demands as unreasonable and ridiculous
RFI News, 16/02/2020: France warns of bloody, bitter Brexit battle with Brits
BBC News, 17/02/2020: Brexit: France warns UK of bitter trade negotiations
The Guardian, 17/02/2020: We won't budge on escaping EU rules, says UK's Brexit negotiator
BBC News, 17/02/2020: Brexit negotiator says UK must be able to set its own laws
Reuters, 17/02/2020: Britain won't heed EU rules to win free trade: PM aide
ITV News, 17/02/2020: 'We'll set laws that suit us': Chief Brexit negotiator insists Britain will not accept EU demands
Sky News, 17/02/2020: Signing up to EU standards would defeat purpose of Brexit, UK negotiator David Frost says
RTÉ News, 18/02/2020: EU demand for level playing field on trade talks 'undemocratic' - Frost
EurActiv, 18/02/2020: Frost: The whole point of Brexit is to break free from EU rules
Politico, 18/02/2020: UK’s EU guru explains Brexit with dinosaurs and de Gaulle
RTÉ News, 18/02/2020: EU to seek return of cultural artefacts under Brexit deal
BBC News, 18/02/2020: Michel Barnier: UK can't have Canada trade deal with EU
EurActiv, 19/02/2020: Brussels bristles at ‘dishonest’ UK government tweet
The Guardian, 19/02/2020: UK-EU trade tensions descend into 'slide war
TIME, 19/02/2020: U.K. Not Losing Its Marbles, Says Famed Greek Sculptures Cannot Be Part of Trade Negotiations With European Union
The Guardian, 19/02/2020: Brexit deal 'a different ball game' to Canada agreement, warns EU
Euronews, 25/02/2020: Michel Barnier warns UK: EU will not conclude post-Brexit trade deal 'at any price'
The Guardian, 25/02/2020: Downing Street rejects EU's 'onerous' opening trade offer
BBC News, 25/02/2020: Brexit: EU warns UK over goods checks between NI and GB
Reuters, 02/03/2020: Talking about life after the divorce: EU and Britain set for new talks
The Guardian, 05/03/2020: Barnier warns of grave differences between EU and UK in trade talks
Reuters, 30/03/2020: EU pushes Britain to extend Brexit talks over virus outbreak
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City AM, 06/04/2020: UK sticks to December 2020 Brexit deadline despite coronavirus
BBC News, 07/04/2020: Brexit trade talks continuing in ‘difficult times’
City AM, 15/04/2020: Brexit trade talks set to resume next week with no deadline extension
The Guardian, 23/04/2020: UK making 'impossible demands' over Europol database in EU talks
The Guardian, 24/04/2020: Britain running down the clock in Brexit talks, says Michel Barnier
Deutsche Welle, 25/04/2020: EU frustrated with sluggish Brexit negotiations
Reuters, 24/04/2020: Britain, EU fail to bridge gaps in future relationship talks
BBC News, 24/04/2020: Brexit: Disappointing progress in trade talks, says Michel Barnier
The Independent, 24/04/2020: UK ‘failing to engage’ in Brexit talks, says EU chief Michel Barnier
EurActiv, 24/04/2020: Barnier: UK is derailing post-Brexit trade pact
The Guardian, 26/04/2020: Post-Brexit trade talks with EU on course to fail, Johnson warned
The Guardian, 13/05/2020: UK-EU trade deal with tariffs impossible in six months, say diplomats
BBC News, 15/05/2020: Brexit: UK warns 'very little progress' made in EU trade talks
Deutsche Welle, 15/05/2020: Brexit: Trade talks yield little progress as EU, UK dig heels in
EUObserver, 15/05/2020: UK and EU blame each other for trade talks stalemate
Reuters, 17/05/2020: UK's Gove says EU trade deal can be done despite talks stalemate
Politico, 17/05/2020: Michael Gove: Huge gap between UK and EU in Brexit talks
RTÉ News, 27/05/2020: Hogan hopes for movement from UK in Brexit talks
The Guardian, 04/06/2020: EU leaders will intervene in Brexit talks in autumn, says German official
Bloomberg, 04/06/2020: With No Progress, Brexit Talks May Go to October, Germany Warns
Deutsche Welle, 05/06/2020: EU's Michel Barnier slams UK over Brexit negotiations
EurActiv, 05/06/2020: No breakthrough in Brexit stalemate, admits Barnier
The Guardian, 15/06/2020: Boris Johnson: no reason why Brexit deal cannot be sealed in July
EurActiv, 15/06/2020: Low expectations as Johnson joins EU leaders to break Brexit deadlock
Deutsche Welle, 18/06/2020: Macron, Johnson agree to intensify Brexit negotiations
EurActiv, 30/06/2020: UK sets September deadline for EU trade deal
Politico, 01/07/2020: Angela Merkel says EU ‘must prepare’ for no-deal Brexit
Deutsche Welle, 02/07/2020: Brexit: Europe, UK trade talks stall over 'serious differences'
Euronews, 03/07/2020: 'Better to have no deal' if Britain continues Brexit stance, says former Irish PM
Politico, 03/07/2020: Boris Johnson: UK not being ‘disrespectful’ toward EU in Brexit talks
Jornal Económico, 23/07/2020: Brexit deal? By the end of the year is "unlikely", says Barnier
The Brussels Times, 23/07/2020: Post-Brexit trade deal ‘unlikely’ at this stage, EU negotiator says
The Guardian, 29/07/2020: UK negotiators have only engaged with issues 'in last week or two', says EU
El País, 29/07/2020: Gibraltar seeks to keep EU ties after Brexit transition ends
EurActiv, 06/08/2020: German minister urges UK to be more ‘realistic’ in Brexit talks
Reuters, 07/08/2020: UK says it's confident of Brexit trade deal as EU changing tone
The Brussels Times, 19/08/2020: EU and UK restart negotiations on post-Brexit relationship
The Local (France), 31/08/2020: French foreign minister blasts 'intransigent and frankly unrealistic' UK at Brexit talks
AP News, 31/08/2020: France accuses UK of stalling in post-Brexit trade talks
Euronews, 02/09/2020: Brexit talks: Barnier slams UK stance, says Britain 'not seeking clean break from EU at all'
Politico, 03/09/2020: Germany: EU will ‘close ranks’ in last weeks of Brexit talks
Reuters, 06/09/2020: UK warns EU on Brexit: We won't blink first
The Guardian, 07/09/2020: Leaked EU cables reveal growing mistrust of UK in Brexit talks
TIME, 07/09/2020: Boris Johnson Says U.K. Will Quit Post-Brexit Trade Talks If No Deal by Oct. 15

European Commission: The European Union and the United Kingdom – forging a new partnership
European Commission: Negotiation rounds on the future partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom
General Secretariat of the Council: EU-UK negotiations on the future relationship
Welsh Government: Written Statement, 11/02/2020: Welsh Government response to the initial UK and EU negotiation mandates
European Parliament: Press Release, 02/03/2020: EU-UK future relations: crucial to ensure EU leverage and unity
European Commission: Negotiations with the UK: Michel Barnier, the European Commission's Chief Negotiator, sets out points of convergence and divergence following the first round of negotiations (5 March 2020 - in French)
European Commission: Joint statement by EU and UK negotiators on next week's round of negotiations (12 March 2020)
European Commission: Joint statement by EU and UK negotiators following the videoconference on 15 April 2020
European Commission: Press statement by Michel Barnier following the second round of future relationship negotiations with the United Kingdom (24 April 2020)
European Commission: Remarks by Michel Barnier following Round 3 of negotiations for a new partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom (15 May 2020)
European Commission: Statement by Michel Barnier following Round 4 of negotiations for a new partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom (5 June 2020)
UK Government: Press Release, 15/06/2020: EU-UK Statement following the High Level Meeting on 15 June
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 25/06/2020: EU-UK relations: Council adopts conclusions
European Commission: 02/07/2020: Statement by Michel Barnier following the restricted round of negotiations for a new partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom
Germanay: Federal Foreign Office: Article, 09/07/2020: Brexit has arrived: Where are we now? What happens next?
European Commission: Press statement by Michel Barnier following Round 6 of the negotiations for a new partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom (23 July 2020)
European Commission: Remarks of Michel Barnier following the seventh round of negotiations on the future partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom (21 August 2020)
Germany: Federal Foreign Office: Article, 04/09/2020: Brexit has arrived: Where are we now? What happens next?
European Commission: Statement by Michel Barnier following Round 8 of negotiations for a new partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom (10 September 2020)

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