Argentina pleads for EU help in using Brexit trade deal to sabotage Falklands' sovereignty

Argentina pleads for EU help in using Brexit trade deal to sabotage Falklands' sovereignty

26/05 - 18:31 - Argentina has asked the EU not to include the Falkland Islands in a post-Brexit deal with the UK, despite it being a British overseas territory.

Argentina’s foreign minister Felipe Solá asked his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney for support in excluding the Islands from an agreement between the UK and the EU. In a telephone call, Mr Solá expressed concerns about the implications it could have for “the Argentine territories of the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, which are under a sovereignty dispute with the UK”.

He added: “Argentina would appreciate Ireland's support so that the EU, in the framework of the trade agreement signed with Mercosur, abstains from including the Malvinas Islands in the current negotiations that are carried out with the UK as a result of Brexit, so that the future relationship between the EU and the UK does not apply or have any effect on the islands.”

The UK and Argentina went to war over the Falkland Islands in 1982.

Mr Solá’s conversation with Mr Coveney last Thursday comes as the UK is in a transition period with the EU until the end of the year while the two sides negotiate a free trade deal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly insisted he will not push back the deadline despite claims by critics that the timeframe is too tight.

Little progress was made in the latest round of trade talks, which are taking place remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Key sticking points including fishing rights and the EU’s call for a level playing field on standards.

Mr Johnson’s Europe adviser David Frost criticised the bloc’s approach to negotiations in a four-page letter to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier last week.

He said the UK found it "perplexing" that Brussels was continuing to make "unbalanced, and unprecedented" demands but argued "rapid" progress could be made if the EU was willing to offer terms similar to those found in free trade agreements it had already struck with third countries such as Canada and Japan.

Mr Frost said: "Overall, at this moment in negotiations, what is on offer is not a fair free trade relationship between close economic partners, but a relatively low-quality trade agreement coming with unprecedented EU oversight of our laws and institutions. It does not have to be like this.

"I remain convinced that it would be very straightforward for us to agree a modern and high-quality FTA and other separate agreements, like those you have agreed with other close partners around the world, and that we could do so quickly.”

Mr Barnier responded by hitting out at Mr Frost’s “tone”.

The EU’s chief negotiator said: "I share your commitment to helping the process move forward together.

"I do not think, however, that an exchange of letters regarding the substance of the negotiations is necessarily the best way to discuss on substantial points.

"It cannot be a substitute for serious engagement and detailed negotiations, and, in particular, I would not like the tone that you have taken to impact the mutual trust and constructive attitude that is essential between us."

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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