U.K. Warns EU Is Risking Brexit Deal by Ignoring Its Red Lines

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(Bloomberg) -- The European Union needs to understand the U.K. is serious about its red lines in negotiations over their future relationship, a person familiar with the British position said.

The two sides are still talking past each other because the EU isn’t treating the U.K. as an independent sovereign state, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. The bloc’s insistence on continued access to U.K. fishing waters and on the involvement of the European Court of Justice is putting a deal in jeopardy, the person said.

It may take some time for the reality of the U.K.’s red lines to sink in with the EU, the person said, warning that there is likely to be more noise before a deal is reached.

The EU has said that it does consider the U.K. a sovereign equal but that the country’s proximity, size and potential access to the European single market means it needs to safeguard its economy.

The U.K. will take stock of the negotiations in June and decide whether to continue them or prepare exit the transition period at the year-end without a trade deal in place. The latter outcome would lead to the return of tariffs and quotas where none exist today.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson isn’t involved in the discussions at this point, but may be needed later, the person said.

The coronavirus forced the two sides to abandon face-to-face talks and turn to video conferencing, something that has deprived negotiators of informal chats over a coffee that help ease the process, the person said. They didn’t rule out holding informal drinks via a video call to help oil the wheels of the talks.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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