Brexit Crunch Time: Stand-off brings the EU-UK commerce settlement updated
© Reuters. The British Union Jack and European flags fly outside Sangatte Town Hall
By Gabriela Baczynska, John Chalmers and Guy Faulconbridge
BRUSSELS / LONDON (Reuters) – Post-Brexit trade talks were at stake on Monday as the UK and the European Union made one last attempt to bridge significant differences and reach an agreement that would avoid a disorderly exit in just 24 days .
Amid growing fears of “no-deal” chatos following the UK’s final exit from EU orbit on December 31, talks will resume in Brussels before UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the President of the European Commission , Ursula von der Leyen, will review the situation on Monday evening.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Sunday the chances of a deal were 50:50. Investment bank JPMorgan (NYSE 🙂 said the likelihood of getting out of a no-trade deal had increased from 20% to a third.
The British pound fell on concerns that there would be no agreement to trade nearly $ 1 trillion each year.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier was “fairly optimistic about the prospects of an agreement” when he spoke to national envoys in Brussels on Monday morning about orange juice and biscuits, according to a diplomat attending the meeting.
“The negotiations between the EU and Great Britain have come to a final, time is running out fast,” said another EU diplomat. “It is up to the UK to choose between … a positive outcome or a no-deal outcome.”
In London, a lawmaker in Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party said France had to make concessions on fishing and the EU had to drop the new fair competition requirements known as a level playing field.
Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney told RTE News: “I would like to give more positive news, but at the moment these negotiations seem to have stalled and the obstacles to progress are still very big.”
The UK, which joined the EU in 1973, officially left the bloc on January 31, but has since been in a transition phase where the rules for trade, travel and business remain unchanged.
For weeks, both sides have been haggling – so far without result – over fishing rights in British waters to ensure fair competition for companies and opportunities to resolve future disputes.
The Sun newspaper reported that Johnson, a figurehead for Britain’s campaign to leave the EU, was ready to pull out of the talks within hours, provided the EU did not change its demands.
Failure to reach an agreement would clog borders, upset financial markets and disrupt fragile supply chains across Europe and beyond as the world tries to manage the huge economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pound sterling fell 1% against the dollar to 2 1/2 week lows at $ 1.328, a reversal in market sentiment from Friday when it rose above $ 1.35 for the first time this year.
With just a few days left before an agreement could be reached, EU diplomats said it was a crucial moment for both the UK and the bloc that turned the devastated nations of Europe into a world power after the devastation of World War II.
In a move that could further undermine talks, the UK government will push ahead this week on bills that would violate London’s previous divorce treaty with the bloc.
Junior Secretary of State James Cleverly said Monday the clauses violating the treaty would be reinstated.
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