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French Foreign Minister Warns Of 'Urgent' Need To Break Post-Brexit Trade Talks Stalemate

© Sputnik / Kirill Kallinikov /  / Go to the mediabankJean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs
Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs - Sputnik International
The comments by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian came after British lead negotiator Lord David Frost said the UK was prepared for a no-deal outcome and not scared of a hard Brexit. Frost said Brussels needed to realise the UK would no long 'blink' in talks as former Prime Minister Theresa May had done.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian has sounded the alarm over post-Brexit trade talks with the UK, warning that breaking the stalemate is "urgent." 

"The British people do not seem to understand that if one wants to negotiate a good deal, one must talk about all issues," le Drian told France Inter radio on Sunday.

"It's not going well, with only two months left, it is urgent, the countdown has started. We prefer to reach a deal but we need to discuss the whole package, including fisheries, to avoid a no-deal," he added.

Talks between the UK and the EU Commission's negotiating team led by France's Michel Barnier have been deadlocked for months over several key issues as a deadline of the end of October looms.

They include Brussels' demands for continued access for European fishing boats to the UK's extensive waters and that Britain keep abiding by EU rules against state aid to industry. European boats currently take three-quarters of the catch from British waters. 

On Saturday it was reported that Barnier had added a new demand for an effective EU veto on new legislation passed by the British Parliament in return for tariff-free access to the EU market.

Members of protocol remove the Union flag from the atrium of the Europa building in Brussels, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 - Sputnik International
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Le Drian's comments came after British lead negotiator Lord David Frost said the UK was not afraid of a no-deal 'hard Brexit' scenario, and had already begun planning for its future "outside the customs union, outside the single market and outside the EU."

"The whole Government has been extensively preparing to ensure that businesses and citizens are ready for the end of the transition period in any scenario," Frost told the Mail on Sunday. "I don't think that we are scared of this at all."

Frost said the EU negotiators had failed to accept the UK's position had hardened since pro-Remain Conservative prime minister Theresa May was resigned and replaced by Brexiteer Boris Johnson.

"We came in after a government and negotiating team that had blinked and had its bluff called at critical moments and the EU had learned not to take our word seriously", He said, adding that his team had struggled "to get them to realise that we mean what we say and they should take our position seriously."

"We want to get back the powers to control our borders and that is the most important thing," Frost underlined. "If we can reach an agreement that regulates trade like Canada's, great. If we can't, it will be an Australian-like trading agreement and we are fully ready for that."

Australia and the EU have been negotiating a free trade agreement since 2018, but trade is currently governed by World Trade Organisation rules under 2008 EU-Australia Partnership Framework on trade and political issues.

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