EU and UK negotiators agreed on one thing on Friday – they’d made precious little progress in trade talks so far when it comes to the key sticking points between the two sides.
They include fish, competition rules, even the form the trade deal should take (one big agreement, as Brussels demands, or the UK preference for a number of mini deals alongside a basic free trade agreement).
Each side secretly, or not so secretly, views the other as misguided ideologues: The EU caricature, rigid with quasi-religious belief in the “integrity of the single market.” The UK government stereotype, described off the record in EU circles, as unquestioning or unthinking believers in “national sovereignty over everything”.
Both sides called on the other on Friday to get real and change their approach. Otherwise, borrowing the words of the EU’s chief negotiator, they’d remain determined but no longer hopeful a deal could be struck.
Frankly, this rhetoric ricocheting right now between London and Brussels is not exactly surprising. Clashes are quite common in high-level negotiations after each side makes its position clear and sticking poin