There is no real sign that Britain is approaching trade talks with the European Union with a plan to succeed, says EU’s Trade Chief Phil Hogan.
Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mr Hogan said: "Despite the urgency and enormity of the negotiating challenge, I am afraid we are only making very slow progress in the Brexit negotiations.”
"There is no real sign that our British friends are approaching the negotiations with a plan to succeed. I hope I am wrong, but I don't think so. I think that the United Kingdom politicians and government have certainly decided that Covid is going to be blamed for all the fallout from Brexit and my perception of it is they don't want to drag the negotiations out into 2021 because they can effectively blame Covid for everything."
Hogan added that if there is no change in the approach the combination of Covid-19 and Brexit will be “an almighty blow to the UK economy later in the year.”
The commissioner said there is great unity between EU countries and "divide and rule tactics" should not be used by the UK.
He added that the EU is serious about a deal and wants predictability and stability on the EU side.
He hopes an agreement can be made by June when European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are due to meet.
The EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier said a joint decision would be taken on 30 June about whether to extend the transition period.
The Brexit transition period is due to last until 31 December. During this period the UK still remains in both the EU single and customs union. The main purpose of this transition period is so the UK and EU can negotiate a suitable trade deal.
As part of the negotiations, both sides agree that they want a free-trade agreement, with no tariffs or quotas. Some of the main issues that need to be agreed on include a deal on UK fisheries, EU product standards and regulations, and the services sector.