Negotiators from the UK and the EU met in Brussels on 2 to 5 March 2020 for the first round of negotiations on the UK-EU future relationship.
The negotiations were formally launched by the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, and by the European Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in a plenary session on 2 March.
The substantive discussions then took place within 11 separate negotiating groups, as agreed between the parties and as set out in the terms of reference. The session closed with a further plenary on 5 March.
Both sides presented their positions as set out in the EU mandate and in the document “The Future Relationship with the EU—The UK’s Approach to Negotiations” (CP211). The UK’s team made clear that on 1 January 2021 the UK would regain its economic and political independence in full, and that the future relationship would need to reflect that reality.
Discussions in some areas identified a degree of common understanding of the ground that future talks could cover. In other areas, notably fisheries, governance and dispute settlement, and the so-called “level playing field”, there were, as expected, significant differences.
The next negotiating round will take place on 18 to 20 March in London. The UK expects to table a number of legal texts, including a draft FTA, beforehand.