Britain-EU talks may hit 'crisis point', warns Irish FM
The European Commission headquarters in Brussels. /VCG

The European Commission headquarters in Brussels. /VCG

Trade negotiations between the Britain and the E.U. will hit a crisis point unless there is progress in the weeks ahead, according to Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.

Coveney made the remarks on Tuesday after consulting with chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier ahead of EU-British talks scheduled to take place on May 11. The talks will be one of two remaining before the E.U. makes its assessment of progress in early July.

The EU-Britain talks resumed in late April, but quickly hit snags, according to diplomats and officials in Brussels.

"The truth is that progress has not been good," Coveney told RTE radio. "The necessary progress really isn't there."

"Unless there is significant progress in those negotiating rounds then I think we are going to reach yet another crisis point in the Brexit negotiations, which from the Irish point of view is very, very serious," Coveney said.

The end of June also marks the deadline for the two sides to extend negotiations beyond the end of the year, something Britain has ruled out.

When talks resume next week, the EU will continue to insist on progress on its priorities of fisheries and level-playing-field provisions, including in areas such as tax and state aid, in parallel to trade talks, according to Coveney.

"The U.K. seems to want to simply pick the areas where they want to deal early and solely focus on those," he said. "The E.U. has made it very clear that that is not an approach that they can work with."

Britain, which is pushing for a basic free trade agreement, says the EU is making demands not sought from other trading partners. It says it won't accept measures that would tie it to European standards.

Source(s): Reuters