Enid Blyton, the famous children's writer, wrote a short story about Tig and Tag, two quarrelsome goblins,who spent so much time quarrelling with each other that they missed the plot and inadvertently allowed Snick and Snack to steal their apples.
One very much hopes that the talks between the UK and EU on their new post- Brexit relationship will never descend to this level - and certainly at this stage, at least publicly, the negotiators are being very polite with each other - but the impression that is being given at this relatively early stage of the discussions is that the parties are quite far apart.
The Guardian newspaper reported online on 15 April 2020 about the videoconference that had taken place earlier that day between the two sides, from which it emerged that time had been usefully spent in that and earlier discussions in identifying the main issues for further discussion. An announcement was also made that there would be three scheduled rounds of further discussions, the first in the week of 20 April 2020 and the second and the third in the weeks of 11 May 2020 and 1 June 2020 respectively.
According to The Guardian report, the agendas for the three further rounds of discussions have not yet been published but are expected to cover the 11 key topics of post-Brexit talks, including trade, security policy, and fisheries.
EU officials are said to be dismayed by the UK's continued insistence that the transition period due to end on 31 December 2020 will not be extended and that key documents (such as a draft legal text on fishing rights covering 100 shared fish species) have not yet been produced by the UK side despite a goal to agree on fishing rights and other matters by 1 July next. Having said that, The Guardian report does confirm that the UK side delivered draft legal texts on energy and law enforcement to the EU side on 10th April 2020.
According to the EU side, there is also dismay that the UK has refused consent to the EU negotiating team sharing with individual EU member states the draft texts of legal documents produced so far by the UK side because the UK wants to reach a consensus with the EU negotiating team first.
The UK and the EU are both fully entitled to protect their own interests in the post-Brexit discussions and the perspective of each side is bound to be different.( As an additional ingredient in the mix, the disruptive effect of the Coronavirus emergency must inevitably be a major cause of concern to both sides in that regard.)
However, the clock is ticking and it would seem sensible to get down to business as soon as possible - and avoid the same mistakes that Tig and Tag made in the story!