U.K. and EU Seek Trade Deal as Critical Deadline Nears

U.K. and EU Seek Trade Deal as Critical Deadline Nears

The last round of informal negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom before a critical EU summit on Thursday begin today as both sides try to hammer out a post-Brexit trade deal. Last month, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said London would stop participating in trade talks on Oct. 15 if a deal wasn’t in place or didn’t appear to be in sight.

Long way to go. On Sunday, Johnson met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the state of the negotiations. Johnson told Merkel that significant gaps between their positions still remained, especially over the issue of fisheries.

The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy gave European boats access to British fisheries, but critics of the policy claimed it caused severe damage to the U.K.’s fishing industry. As Laurence Blair wrote in Foreign Policy, the British government is seeking to regain exclusive control of the U.K.’s fisheries, and this could “derail the painstaking negotiations to determine what relationship Britain … will have with the EU once it becomes fully independent.”

Northern Ireland won’t go away. The other major issue at stake is the ongoing wrangling over the British government’s internal market bill, which is designed to override the Northern Ireland protocol in last year’s Brexit withdrawal agreement. According to the protocol, Northern Ireland will remained aligned with the EU’s regulatory framework after Brexit in order to safeguard key parts of the Good Friday peace agreement. Johnson faced withering criticism for trying to override the protocol, and the EU recently took legal action against the U.K. government over the bill.