High level EU-UK talks set for Monday as new deadline looms

In this photo issued by 10 Downing Street on Sunday, May 10, 2020, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers an address on lifting the country's lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson announced a modest easing of the country’s coronavirus lockdown and outlined his government’s road map for further lifting restrictions in the coming months. In a televised address to the nation, Johnson said people in Britain who can’t work from home, such as those in construction or manufacturing jobs, “should be actively encouraged to go to work” this week. (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street via AP)
265805 Pinchos- PGB promo Banner (25 x 5 cm)-5 copy

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold talks with top European Union officials on Monday to try to push forward trade discussions after post-Brexit negotiations ended last week with little sign of progress and a new deadline looming.

“The High-Level meeting between the EU and U.K. is now confirmed for 15 June,” European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer tweeted Thursday. The EU delegation will include Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and European Parliament President David Sassoli.

In London, Downing Street confirmed the video conference meeting would take place Monday afternoon, and that the sides “have agreed an intensified timetable” for the trade negotiations in July. That would involve “a mix of formal negotiating rounds and smaller group meetings, both in London and Brussels” if coronavirus restrictions permit.

The two sides remained at loggerheads over several issues after four days of talks last week, including on regulations for businesses. Their positions on fisheries also remain distant, with the U.K. adamantly opposed to EU demands for long-term access to British waters.

The U.K. left the political institutions of the EU on Jan. 31 but remains inside the EU’s tariff-free economic zone until the end of the year. The transition period can be extended by two years but a request to do so has to be made by July 1. Johnson has repeatedly said he won’t ask for an extension.

The hope is that Monday’s talks will push the negotiations forward.

If the EU and the British government don’t reach an agreement by the end of the year, tariffs and quotas will return on trade between the U.K. and the 27-nation bloc, another economic shock — on top of the pandemic — that most economists think would hurt Britain more. Cars exported from one side to the other, for example, would face a 10% levy.