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The Day of the High Level Conference

Ahead of today’s High Level Conference between Boris Johnson, Charles Michel, Ursula von der Leyen and David Sassoli, rhetoric once again began ramping up between the two negotiating partners.

Maintaining consistency, the UK Government again confirmed that it is not seeking an extension to the transition period. Michel Barnier, in response, tweeted that the EU has agreed to ‘give every chance’ to the negotiations and intensify talks in the coming weeks and months. His inclusion of a reminder that the EU has always been open to extension of the transition period works to firmly plant any notion of too-short timetables as the UK’s doing.

Boris Johnson, meanwhile, was predicted either to ‘bang the table’ or ‘scramble’.

The EU’s press statement following the meeting was written in muted, diplomatic tones. It reports that the parties noted the UK’s decision to not request any transition period extension and that both parties have underlined their intention to work hard deliver a relationship and implement the Withdrawal Agreement.

Looking ahead, the European Commission has published an addendum to the terms of reference on the EU-UK future relationship negotiations, including a timetable for the next three months of meetings. A restricted round (Chief Negotiators and specialised sessions) will be held the week of 29 June to 3 July (Brussels). This will be followed by team meetings on the week of 6 July (London) and 13 July (Brussels). Round Five will be held the week of 20 to 24 July in London, followed by team meetings the next week in London. Round Six will be held the week of 17 to 21 August in Brussels. Locations and formats of the meetings are subject to health-related constraints and a combination of physical and videoconference meetings are foreseen.

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