Top-level talks suspended after positive Covid test


The EU and UK chief negotiators have stepped back from post-Brexit trade talks after a member of the EU team tested positive for Covid-19. The EU’s Michel Barnier said his UK counterpart Lord David Frost had agreed to suspend negotiations between them for a “short period”. Mr Barnier added their teams would continue discussions in “full respect” of safety guidelines. They are locked in talks as the clock counts down to a December deadline. Both sides are seeking an agreement to govern their trading relationship once the UK’s post-Brexit transition period ends in January 2021. Fishing rights, competition rules and how any deal would be enforced remain key areas of disagreement.

On Thursday, Mr Barnier tweeted that a member of his negotiating team had tested positive for the virus, as talks over a deal continued in Brussels. “With David Frost, we have decided to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period,” he added. In reply, Lord Frost said he was in “close contact with Michel Barnier about the situation,” and “the health of our teams comes first”. BBC Brussels correspondent Nick Beake said he had been told Mr Barnier would now self-quarantine following the team member’s test result. Our correspondent added it was not clear how long the pause in top-level talks would last, or if top officials would have to self-isolate.(BBC)…[+]