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Michael Gove insisted the European Union must change its approach to trade talks with Britain if Brussels wants to restart negotiations. In a statement to Parliament, Mr Gove said trade talks had “effectively ended” after the October 15 deadline set by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he accused the bloc of not engaging seriously in negotiations. He told MPs: “The EU was only willing to conduct negotiations on half the days available and would not engage on all the outstanding issues.
“Moreover, the EU refused to discuss legal texts in any area as it has done since the summer.
“It’s almost incredible to our negotiators that we’ve reached this point in the negotiations without any common legal texts of any kind.
“This unfortunate sequence of events has effectively ended the trade negotiations because it leaves no basis on which we can actually find an agreement.
“There’s no point in negotiations proceeding as long as the EU sticks with this position. Such talks would be meaningless and would take us no nearer to finding a workable solution.
Mr Gove continued: “If the EU wants to change this situation and I devoutly hope it will, it needs to make a fundamental change in its approach and make clear its answer, it has to be serious about talking intensively on all issues and trying to reach a conclusion and I hope it will.
“But it also needs to accept that it’s dealing with an independent and sovereign country now.
“We’ve tried to be clear from the start that we would not be able to reach an agreement inconsistent with that status and I do not think you could accuse us of keeping that a secret.
“And yet the proposals that the EU have discussed with us in recent weeks, which it presents as compromises, are simply not consistent with our new sovereign status, certainly not yet.
“So while I do not doubt that many of the EU side are well intentioned, we cannot accept the negotiators’ proposals that would require us to provide full permanent access to our fishing waters with quotas substantially unchanged to those which were imposed by EU membership.”
But the EU is ready to intensify talks towards a deal on future trade ties with Britain after a meeting to discuss the existing Brexit agreement, at which both sides showed “political will” to move swiftly, senior officials with the bloc said.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said, after talks with London about upholding the Withdrawal Agreement on Monday, that Britain had much work to do to honour commitments on the island of Ireland.
He said contacts would “significantly intensify”, with a view to another such meeting in mid-November.
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EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier then tweeted that the bloc was available to intensify talks in London this week “on all subjects, and based on legal texts.”
Downing Street stressed that if no deal is in place by the end of the year – when the current transition arrangements end – the UK will not return to the negotiating table in 2021.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “If the EU change their position then we will be willing to talk to them.
“But they must be ready to discuss the detailed legal text of a treaty in all areas.”
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