Brexit: ‘Just a few hours’ left to agree on Brexit trade deal with EU
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there are “just a few hours left” for the UK and EU to agree on a post-Brexit trade deal.
Speaking in the European Parliament on Friday, he said it was “the moment of truth” for the two sides to come to an agreement.
He said there was still a “chance” of a deal, but the “path is very narrow.”
Barnier’s comments follow a warning from prime minister Boris Johnson that a no-deal scenario was “very likely” unless the EU changes its position “substantially.”
Talks are resuming between the two teams in Brussels after the PM and President Ursula von der Leyen spoke on Thursday night.
Mrs von der Leyen said bridging “big differences”, particularly on fishing rights, would be “very challenging”, while the prime minister said discussions were in a “serious situation”.
Since the UK left the EU back in January it has been following the bloc’s trade rules while the two sides negotiate a trade deal.
If a trade deal is not agreed by 31 December, the UK will go on to trade on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules – those rules could see charges introduced on goods being sold and bought and could lead to a spike in prices.
According to Barnier, it was the UK that decided on the deadline and the EU would have been willing to extend the so-called transition period into next year so talks could continue.
“If they should leave with an agreement or without, it is nevertheless the Brits that decided on that deadline,” he told the European Parliament.
The PM has insisted the UK will “prosper” with or without a trade deal with the EU.
‘Breaking the deadlock’ – uk fishing rights after brexit
Mr Barnier and his UK counterpart Lord David Frost are in talks in Brussels in an attempt to break the deadlock on key issues that remain unresolved.
The issues include rights to fishing waters from 1 January and what is known as the “level playing field”.
On fishing, Barnier said if the UK wants to use its “sovereignty” over its waters to cut access for EU fishermen, “then the European Union also has to maintain its sovereign right to react or compensate adjusting conditions [to access the] single market”.
And on the level playing field, he said there needed to be “fair competition” in place, adding: “If the sovereign United Kingdom would like to depart from those standards, that is their right, but it brings with it consequences when it comes to access to our markets without tariffs or quotas.”
level playing field meaning
The level playing field is a trade-policy term for a set of common rules and standards that prevent businesses in one country gaining a competitive advantage over those operating in other countries.
It’s about fair and open competition and it’s an important part of the EU single market in which member countries allow the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.
5 ways a no-deal Brexit will change your everyday
The UK has the threat of a no-deal Brexit looming again after prime minister Boris Johnson returned from a Brussels meeting with the European Commission and having failed to secure any concessions on a potential free trade agreement.
How likely is a no-deal Brexit? Very likely. The no-deal Brexit odds are high but the Prime Minister said leaving without a deal should hold “no fear” for Britain.
Read the full story here.
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