UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will join a video-conference with European Union (EU) leaders on Monday to push for progress in determining post-Brexit relations with the bloc, while officials in Brussels expect a little breakthrough.
Johnson, his chief Brexit negotiator David Frost, and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove will hold “high-level talks” with Presidents of the European Council, European Commission, European Parliament Charles Michael, Ursula von der Leyen, and David Sassoli, respectively, reports Xinhua news agency.
Johnson will tell the EU leaders that the Brexit talks must be concluded by autumn “at the latest”, because the public and businesses affected by Brexit need certainty, The Telegraph newspaper said in a report on Sunday.
At the video-conference, the Prime Minister will also demand a “high-quality Free Trade Agreement” that is “consistent with others the EU has agreed, as part of a balanced overall outcome”, according to the Express newspaper.
Meanwhile, Brussels has warned that it would not brush aside the bloc’s economic interests in a bid for a deal.
One senior EU official told the media that Monday’s meeting was already scheduled in the withdrawal agreement, “so it is happening but no one expects much”.
Michel Barnier, EU chief negotiator for Brexit, has said that while he is open to some compromises, any deal must be reached in the overall long-term political and economic interest of the bloc.
Last week, he accused the UK of “looking to maintain the benefits of being a member state” in the bloc.
The UK and the EU concluded their fourth round of talks last week, during which they made no progress on the most difficult areas where differences of principle are most acute, notably on fisheries, governance arrangements and the so-called level playing field.
Taking to Twitter on Friday, Gove said: “I formally confirmed the UK will not extend the transition period and the moment for extension has now passed. On 1 January 2021 we will take back control and regain our political and economic independence.”
The UK formally exited the EU on January 31 but is still following EU rules during the transition period until December 31 to enable a permanent future trade deal to be reached.
During this period, the UK would have to pay into EU funds but have no say on laws imposed by Brussels.