Could a UK-EU trade-off over refugees be on the cards?

Brussels is still in the dog days of August, but with Brexit talks restarting next week the town is slowly beginning to stir from its summer slumber. 

Looming trade negotiations with the Brits — which will really start motoring from September — could be just what the doctor ordered to heal rifts among EU leaders who spent July locked in bitter negotiations about how to pool their financial firepower to fight coronavirus. 

As has often been the case since the referendum, Brexit will provide welcome respite for squabbling European governments which can display the unity that usually goes missing when they are confronted with their own housekeeping — be it over money, the rule of law or foreign policy.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, may well convene an EU27 leaders’ post-break powwow in Brussels next month after a planned EU-China summit in Leipzig on September 14 was shelved due to coronavirus. 

A senior EU diplomat refused to confirm the president’s intentions for a summit to discuss Brexit or anything else. But come what may, relations with the UK will formally be back on leaders’ agenda by October (that’s the earliest leaders are due to meet for their next regular summit). 

Next week’s Brexit talks take place in Brussels from Tuesday to…

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