The latest round of negotiations on the future relationship after Brexit took place in Brussels last week – the first time the two sides have met face-to-face in more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic. But talks collapsed and ended a day early, with both sides again blaming each other for a lack of progress being made and warning time is running out to agree a deal. Speaking on RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor programme with Damien O’Reilly, Ireland’s Mr Hogan claimed for the last few months, the EU has been trying to make progress with the UK on several issues, but without much success.
He still believes the two sides will strike a post-Brexit trade deal, but only if the UK really wants one and shows ambition to do so.
But the EU trade commissioner warned there is still frustration from Brussels the good faith being shown is not being replicated by British negotiators.
Mr Hogan said: “I still believe there will be a deal. The ambition of that deal on the European Union side is real.
“I don’t see the same ambition at the moment on the UK’s side so, the ball is in the UK’s court, if they want a deal, there is a deal to be done.
Brexit news: Phil Hogan has hit out at the UK over a lack of ambition in trade talks with the EU
Brexit news: Ireland’s trade chief has warned the UK time is running out to agree a trade deal
“Very little has happened in the last few months and there’s a frustration on the EU side about the fact that the good faith in terms of the negotiations that’s required on both sides is not happening to the extent that it should.
“Not any old deal will do.”
Mr Hogan said huge divisions still remain between the two sides on issues ranging from fisheries and the role of the European Court of Justice in dispute resolution.
He insisted the EU is willing to compromise and Brussels wants to agree a deal that could be approved by both the House of Commons and the European Parliament.
Brexity news: Boris Johnson has been warned time is running out over a trade agreement with the EU
But the trade chief warned if these issues aren’t quickly resolved, a no deal scenario will be the outcome by the time the transition period ends on December 31, 2020.
Mr Hogan added: “Boris Johnson has explicitly stated that he wants a deal, so we need to see movement on the UK side soon or else it’s going to be too late.”
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier will arrive in London this week for the latest round of post-Brexit trade talks with the UK, led by British counterpart David Frost.
Last week’s talks in Brussels collapsed and ended a day early due to major differences around several issues in the potential trade deal, with a one-on-one meeting between the two head negotiators cancelled as a result.
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Brexit news: Michel Barnier will arrive in London this week for the latest round of trade talks
Brexit news: David Frost said the trade talks have ‘underlined the significant differences’ remaining between the two sides
They had intended to meet alone on Friday, but officials said 24 hours earlier that plan had been ditched.
Following the early end to trade talks, Mr Frost said in a statement: “The negotiations have been comprehensive and useful.
“But they have also underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues.”
Mr Barnier insisted the EU had engaged “constructively” during post-Brexit trade talks in Brussels, and warned officials need to see an “equivalent engagement from the UK side”.
He said in a statement: “After four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.
Brexit news: The transition period ends on December 31, 2020
“The EU expects, in turn, its positions to be better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement. We need an equivalent engagement by the United Kingdom.”
Britain left the EU on January 31, but little progress has been made in trade talks since they began more than three months ago, with the year-long deadline looming.
The EU argues the UK cannot retain all the economic and trading benefits it had as an EU member, while London claims the EU is not showing enough flexibility during the negotiations.
Brussels insists Britain must commit to maintaining EU standards on everything from state aid to labour to environment regulations to prevent it undercutting EU products in the future.
Mr Barnier has warned there could be no economic partnership without “robust guarantees for a level playing field, including on state aid, to ensure open and fair competition among our businesses”.