25th February 2020 – The Council of the EU has today authorized the opening of negotiations for a new partnership with the United Kingdom. The latter is expected to publish its negotiating position later this week. These are expected to be difficult talks, particularly under the pressure of time, considering that an agreement is required within months in order to avoid the return of a cliff-edge scenario that would come about unless a deal is agreed and ratified by all parties by the end of the year.
MBB CEO Joe Tanti stated, “Our economy and businesses stand much to gain or lose from the outcome of the EU-UK negotiations. We strongly believe in a fair deal that is based on the political declaration on the future relationship agreed to already by both parties in the run up to the UK’s departure from the EU. However, there are several complex issues to finetune in the process, and the pressure of time may hinder the depth of negotiations required to find realistic and productive compromises. Both the EU and the UK should therefore keep an open mind on the possibility of making use of the one-time extension that needs to be triggered by mid-2020 in order to pursue further discussions post the deadline.”
Mr. Tanti added, “For Malta it is crucial that the future EU-UK deal ensures that travel between the two blocs continues to take place unhindered, particularly with good arrangements for the aviation sector as well as movement of people for short-term travel. Considering the great volume of trade in goods that goes on between the two, it is important to maintain tariff and quota free trade, while non-tariff barriers kept strictly to a minimum.”
“From our sources in Brussels, we increasingly hear that due to the constraints of time, a deal could primarily focus on the movement of goods. However, the Maltese economy also depends strongly on the provision of services, and therefore we urge for a parallel ambitious agreement in the trade of services that avoids divergence in rules as much as possible, and with continuous regulatory cooperation in the coming years to avoid barriers to trade in this area,” Mr. Tanti concluded.
The Malta Business Bureau will continue to actively follow these negotiations and keep Maltese businesses abreast of developments in order to prepare for future prospects based on the negotiated outcome.