Little progress on Brexit commerce negotiations as deadline looms

One of the vital intense days within the long-running Brexit commerce negotiations produced few indicators of progress and gloomy forecasts Monday, with the United Kingdom and the European Union seemingly nonetheless caught on the identical points which have dogged the standoff for months.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had no information of a breakthrough when be briefed ambassadors of the 27 member states on the possibilities of a cope with London earlier than the Dec. 31 deadline.


Irish International Minister Simon Coveney mentioned Barnier’s message was “very downbeat.”

“I might say he’s very gloomy, and clearly very cautious in regards to the capacity to make progress immediately,” Coveney instructed Irish broadcaster RTE.

European Union flags flutter within the wind previous to a gathering of Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier at EU headquarters in Brussels, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. Nicely past any possible deadline and with all three key points nonetheless unresolved, the European Union and the UK determined to press on with negotiating a commerce deal forward of an ever-closer Jan. 1 cutoff day. (AP Photograph/Francisco Seco)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Fee chief Ursula von der Leyen are as a result of converse by telephone at 1600 GMT (11 a.m. EST) Monday for the second time in 48 hours, to resolve whether or not to drag the plug on talks – a choice that would price lots of of hundreds of jobs on each side and disrupt cross-Channel commerce for years to come back.

One official from an EU nation mentioned “the difficulties persist” over the authorized oversight of any commerce deal and requirements of honest play that the U.Okay. wants to fulfill to have the ability to export within the EU. On fisheries too, a variety of work stays, mentioned the official, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of the talks have been ongoing.

Britain’s pound foreign money fell greater than 1% towards the greenback to underneath $1.33 amid the uncertainty.


Johnson’s spokesman, Jamie Davies, declined to supply odds on a deal being struck.

“I’m not going to place a proportion on it,” he mentioned. “We’re ready to barter for so long as we now have time accessible if we expect an settlement continues to be attainable.”

Whereas the U.Okay. left the EU politically on Jan. 31, it stays throughout the bloc’s tariff-free single market and customs union via Dec. 31. Reaching a commerce deal by then would guarantee there are not any tariffs and commerce quotas on items exported or imported by the 2 sides, though there would nonetheless be new prices and pink tape.

At his early morning assembly with EU ambassadors, Barnier confronted some anxious member states that feared an excessive amount of may need been yielded already to London. If talks proceed after Monday, they are going to be closing in on a two-day EU summit beginning Thursday, the place German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will probably be main gamers.

Germany desires a deal partly as a result of its large automotive business has at all times discovered a welcome export market in Britain. France – seen by Britain because the “dangerous cop” in commerce negotiations – has taken the lead in demanding that U.Okay. firms should carefully align themselves with EU guidelines and environmental and social requirements in the event that they nonetheless wish to export to the profitable market of 450 million individuals.


The politically charged concern of fisheries additionally continues to play an outsized position. The EU has demanded widespread entry to U.Okay. fishing grounds that traditionally have been open to international trawlers. Britain insists it should management its personal waters, doling out quotas yearly.

Whereas each Britain and the EU say they need a commerce deal, belief and goodwill are strained after months of testy negotiations.

In an additional complication, Johnson’s authorities plans Monday to revive laws that breaches the legally binding Brexit withdrawal settlement it struck with the EU final 12 months.

The U.Okay. authorities acknowledges that the Inner Market Invoice breaks worldwide legislation, and the laws has been condemned by the EU, President-elect Joe Biden and scores of British lawmakers, together with many from Johnson’s personal Conservative Social gathering.

The Home of Lords, Parliament’s higher chamber, eliminated the law-breaking clauses from the laws final month, however Johnson’s authorities will attempt to reinsert them on Monday.

Britain says the invoice, which supplies the federal government energy to override components of the withdrawal settlement referring to commerce with Northern Eire, is required as an “insurance coverage coverage” to guard the move of products throughout the U.Okay. within the occasion of a no-deal Brexit. The EU sees it as an act of dangerous religion that would imperil Northern Eire’s peace settlement.


On Wednesday the U.Okay. plans to introduce a Taxation Invoice that comprises extra measures alongside the identical traces and would additional irritate the EU.

EU member states must unanimously assist any post-Brexit commerce deal and the settlement nonetheless must be voted on by the European parliament, procedures that may push any deal proper as much as the end-of-year deadline.

Either side would undergo economically from a failure to safe a commerce deal, however most economists suppose the British economic system would take a larger hit, no less than within the brief time period, as a result of the U.Okay. does virtually half its commerce with the bloc.

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