We understand each other, but… we continue to disagree, commented the President of the Commission – Until 13/12 a decision on the future of the negotiations is necessary
Brexit negotiators will have until Sunday to strike a UK-EU trade deal that will take effect after December 31, when the transition period for the country’s exit from the Union ends.
The talks between the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, during a dinner with the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Layen, ended yesterday without any progress.
The leaders agreed that talks would continue in the coming days, despite significant disagreements between the two sides over what their future trade relationship would be like.
As both sides stated, by December 13, a final decision on the future of the negotiations will have to be made.
Johnson’s team had hoped that a four-way meeting with von der Leyen would provide new momentum to the process, but the conversation that took place over dinner in Brussels containing scallops and turbot, as Bloomberg notes, did not help to break the deadlock in the end.
“We understand each other’s positions. They remain far apart.,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter after the meeting. “The teams should immediately reconvene to try to resolve these issues. We will come to a decision by the end of the weekend.”
After eight months of negotiations, Britain and the EU have failed to overcome the three biggest obstacles to a deal: Fishing rights, governance agreement and a level playing field for businesses.
If no agreement is reached by the end of the year, businesses and consumers will be hit by additional costs and problems, as tariffs and quotas are imposed on trade with the UK’s largest and closest trading partner.
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While Johnson wants to try every way to reach a trade deal, it is not clear that the remaining major obstacles will likely be overcome, a senior European official said.
“I think there was a good discussion, but there was no clear progress in the right direction,” said Robert Jenrick, the British Minister for Housing and Local Government. “It will take a few more days of efforts to resolve these differences. But I have to say that some very important areas are still at stake.”
Von der Leyen is expected to brief the 27 EU leaders on the results of the dinner at a two-day summit starting today in Brussels.
According to a source, both sides seem to believe that an agreement is still possible.
The scale of the gap that still needs to be bridged in terms of a level playing field for businesses was revealed yesterday Wednesday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the controversy over what will happen if British rules deviate from the EU rules could destroy the EU possibility of an agreement.
“If there are conditions on the British side that we will not be able to accept, then we are ready to leave without an agreement,” Merkel said.
Johnson responded by saying that no British leader could accept the terms the EU wanted to impose on business and fisheries rules.
A spokesman for Johnson reiterated Wednesday night that any agreement should respect the independence and sovereignty of the United Kingdom.