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Brexit: EU-UK meeting to continue via video link

Michael GoveCopyright of the image
PA Media

Caption of the image

Michael Gove will not meet EU officials face to face for a while

A post-Brexit meeting between the EU and the UK will continue as planned next week, despite the coronavirus crisis.

Much of Europe is in lockdown, so government minister Michael Gove will meet EU officials via video link.

Leading UK and EU negotiators, David Frost and Michel Barnier, isolate themselves after testing positive for coronavirus.

Downing Street insisted that there would be “no change” in its timetable for a trade deal.

Under the terms of its withdrawal agreement with the EU, the UK has until the end of the year – during which it will continue to follow most of the Brussels rules – to reach an agreement.

The United Kingdom has excluded any deadline extension. But the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has warned that it will be “impossible” to reach a global agreement within this deadline.

Speaking last month, Gove threatened that the UK could have abandoned the talks in June if the two sides had not agreed on the “big picture” of the terms since then.

The government has also published a 30-page document outlining its priorities for negotiations,

The first meeting of the UK-EU Joint Committee, to discuss the implementation of the withdrawal agreement, will take place by videoconference on Monday, with Gove in front of the Vice-President of the European Commission Maros Sefcovic.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the talks “will oversee the implementation, application and interpretation of the withdrawal agreement and will try to resolve any problems that may arise from it.”

Johnson announced on Friday that he had contracted the coronavirus but that he continued to work alone.

Brexit took place on January 31 after the conservatives of Mr. Johnson won the general election with a landslide.

This ended over three years of parliamentary controversy and implemented the result of the 2016 referendum, in which 52% of British voters chose not to stay in the EU.

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