Michel Barnier, the European Union’s Brexit negotiator, has told EU lawmakers that he will make Britain’s new trade deal with the EU a priority after Brexit, said a report from the Financial Times citing sources briefed on a closed-door meeting.
While addressing members of the European Parliament, Barnier stated the 11 months from Britain’s planned EU exit on January 31 until the end of its transition period would normally not be enough to negotiate a trade agreement, said the report from the Financial Times.
He went on to add, Brussels will strive to have a deal in place for the end of 2020.
He also disclosed, issues that are beyond the scope of the trade pact, such as concluding an agreement on road freight and aircraft takeoff and landing rights, is likely to take longer; Brussels has the option to take contingency measures to prevent economic disruption if talks were to continue past the end of 2020.
Cooperation with the UK on security and defense matters is also a top priority for the EU.
Earlier this month, Barnier had commented that negotiations on a future trading relationship with Britain would be “difficult and demanding,” as the EU “will not tolerate unfair competitive advantage”.