EU, UK positions on withdrawal agreement remains far apart

The European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) Monday concluded the third meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee on the implementation and application of the Withdrawal Agreement (Brexit) but without making much progress.
The European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) Monday concluded the third meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee on the implementation and application of the Withdrawal Agreement (Brexit) but without making much progress.

BRUSSELS — The European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) Monday concluded the third meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee on the implementation and application of the Withdrawal Agreement (Brexit) but without making much progress.

"Many difficult issues remain and the UK's positions are far apart from what the EU can accept." European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic told an online press conference in Brussels Monday.

"Much work still to be done before the transition period ends in fewer than a 100 days," he said.

The two sides discussed a number of issues such as the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU after the transition period ends on Dec. 31.

Sefovic, who is responsible for inter-institutional affairs in the European Commission, said he repeated the EU's request to the UK to withdraw the contentious parts of the draft Internal Market Bill by the end of September.

"We maintain that the Bill, if adopted in its current form, would constitute an extremely serious violation of the Protocol, as an essential part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and of international law," he stressed.

"All in all, today's Joint Committee meeting has shown the urgent need to move into higher gear and therefore, the next Joint Committee by mid-October should take stock of the results achieved by the Specialized Committees," he added.

Sefcovic together with British Minister Michael Gove, is leading the joint committee that oversees the proper implementation of the withdrawal agreement reached between the European Union and the United Kingdom last year.

On the basis of the withdrawal agreement, the United Kingdom left the European Union last January. The two sides agreed on a transition period until the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost are to begin the ninth and final round of UK-EU Future Relationship negotiations on Tuesday. — KUNA