The European Union said it won’t abandon trade talks with the UK even if Boris Johnson’s government doesn’t withdraw its plan to break international law.
Yet at the same time, the bloc renewed its threat to take legal action in a sign of just how delicate negotiations are as the clock ticks on a compromise.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, who held talks with UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove in Brussels on Monday, said the EU would never pull out of negotiations on a future relationship despite the UK’s attempt to rewrite parts of the Brexit divorce treaty signed last year.
He said Gove hadn’t assured him the government would back down so he “will not be shy” in looking at legal proceedings, but declined to say when or what they would be.
The EU’s deadline for the UK to change tack is two days away, in the middle of the final
negotiating round on a wide-ranging future trade and security partnership.
The comments highlight how the two sides are involved in a delicate balancing act.
While, the EU objects to the UK plan and it has increased the lack of trust in Johnson’s government, the bloc is determined to get a trade deal. Likewise, British negotiators are still optimistic of finding agreement and don’t want the row over the divorce treaty to wreck things.
“We have seen it as a breach of trust” but “we are determined to get a deal,” Sefcovic told reporters. “It will never be the EU that will cause the end of the negotiations on the future partnership.”