UK and EU officials on Tuesday (17 March) cancelled the second round of post-Brexit trade talks planned for this week because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“In light of the latest guidance on coronavirus, we will not formally be convening negotiating work strands tomorrow,” the UK government said in a statement, adding that officials were exploring the possibilities of conducting upcoming talks via video conferencing or conference calls.
With both the UK and EU imposing a 30 day travel ban and putting their citizens on lockdown, it is difficult to see how face-to-face talks will be able to take place any time soon.
However, Boris Johnson’s government has ear-marked a mid-June meeting as the point when it will decide whether to walk away from the talks, and has repeated that the eleven month post-Brexit transition period will not be extended despite the logistical problem caused by COVID-19.
“We expect to share a draft FTA (free trade agreement) alongside the draft legal texts of a number of the standalone agreements in the near future still, as planned,” added the UK statement.