Since my last update, the fourth round of negotiations, the last before the ‘high level’ conference at the end of June have ended without significant progress in any area.
The same four issues continue to be sticking points: fishing, level playing field, governance and police and civil justice co-operation. There was apparently small movement from the UK on the EHRC, which is the key sticking point in police and civil justice co-operation, but this still falls short of what was agreed in the Political Declaration. Barnier highlighted, as examples of UK divergence from the Political Declaration, the level playing field, civil and nuclear co-operation, anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing, and the overarching institutional framework.
Northern Ireland businesses have called for a six-month extension to implement the protocol and the Northern Ireland Assembly has joined the Scottish and Welsh Governments in calling for an extension. Serious risks have been raised about the impact of leaving the EU without a deal at the end of the year. The Director General of the CBI has made clear that businesses aren’t prepared for major changes, Nissan have warned that the Sunderland plant is at risk and the Social Market Foundation has published research to show the combined impact of Covid and Brexit will his the North West, North East and Midlands hardest. The haulage industry has said time is running out to hire and train new border staff.
There are some key dates coming up later in June – a Joint Committee meeting on 12 June, European Council on 18-19 June and a ‘high level’ conference – date tbc.