Badly started discussions. European negotiator Michel Barnier judged Thursday “unlikely” that the 27 and the United Kingdom will reach a trade agreement as part of the negotiations on their post-Brexit relationship, joining the statements of his British counterpart, himself pessimistic.

At the end of a new round of negotiations in London, Michel Barnier underlined that “little progress” had been made on two crucial subjects: the conditions of fair competition and fisheries.

“By its current refusal to commit to the conditions of fair competition and a balanced agreement on fisheries”, the United Kingdom makes a trade agreement at this stage unlikely, “accused the European negotiator during the meeting. ‘a press conference.

Ultimatum on December 31

His British counterpart David Frost, for his part, deplored that no agreement could be found in the timetable hoped for by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “Unfortunately, it is clear that we will not conclude in July preliminary agreement on the principles underlying an agreement that we had set as an objective ”, regrets David Frost in a press release.

After 47 years of a rocky marriage, the UK left the EU on January 31, but the country has until the end of the transition period, set for December 31, to strike a trade deal with its former partner.

VIDEO. When thousands of English people were celebrating their departure from Europe

If the EU and its former partner cannot come to an agreement, only the rules of the World Trade Organization, with their high tariffs, would apply from January 2021 to trade relations between London and the 27.

Last week, London unveiled details of its first post-Brexit border management proposals, insisting that they would be implemented regardless of a deal being reached with Brussels. The 206-page bill provides for gradual border law enforcement over the first six months of 2021.