Barnier: A few hours left for a Brexit trade deal

Britain and the European Union have just a few more hours to walk the very narrow path to a Brexit trade deal that will prevent the most tumultuous finale of the Brexit crisis in less than two weeks, the leader said today. EU negotiator Michel Barnier.

As the talks get to the bottom of it, the two sides are asking for concessions in the midst of a series of often conflicting messages, ranging from the fact that an agreement is possible to the fact that there are serious difficulties for an agreement or even that an agreement is imminent.

An agreement will ensure that trade in products accounts for half of the annual EU-UK trade, totaling almost one trillion. will remain duty-free and quota-free after 31 December.

“It’s time for the truth,” said the EU chief negotiator. Michel Barnier at the European Parliament in Brussels. “There is a possibility of reaching an agreement but the road to such an agreement is very narrow.”

“We have very little time left, just a few hours to move on to these negotiations in a useful way if we want this agreement to enter into force on January 1.”

At the end of a meeting with Barnier yesterday morning, the leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups warned that if they did not receive the text of an agreement by “midnight on Sunday”, they would not be able to ratify it in time for it to enter into force on 1 January 2021.

The pound, which has been moving at the pace of Brexit for five years, earlier fell 0.5% against the dollar to 1.3513.
“Serious situation”

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in their telephone communication yesterday that the talks are in a “serious state” and that now it seems very likely that no agreement will be reached unless the position of the EU changes. Ε ..

Von der Leyen said progress had been made but bridging differences in some areas, especially fisheries, would be “very difficult”.

While Barnier said the two sides were struggling to reach an agreement, he said the union of 27 member states would not sign a pact that would undermine the valuable single market of 450 million consumers.

He said that the EU needs to be able to impose trade restrictions if the UK changes its own arrangements to offer below-standard products to the European bloc market.

On the issue of fisheries, he said the European bloc also wants to be free to retaliate by restricting access to the EU market. for British fishery products, in the event that Britain excludes European vessels from its waters.

“It’s where we want to end up in one of the most difficult places right now. “Fisheries are an integral part of the trade relationship,” Barnier said, adding that he did not know whether the talks would lead to an agreement or not. “We have to be ready for all the possibilities.”

The failure of the two sides to reach an agreement on trade in products will cause a surge in financial markets, hit European economies, create border problems and chaos in sensitive supply chains across Europe and beyond.

Johnson, the face of the Brexit campaign in 2016, presents his country’s exit from the EU. as an opportunity for Britain to become a fully independent economy that will be much more flexible than its competitors and therefore does not want to be committed to the EU trajectory. and its rules for the coming years.

European powers fear London wants the benefits of both worlds – privileged access to European markets with the advantage of setting its own rules. European countries argue that this will undermine the plan to unite the states of Europe, devastated by World War II, into a world trading power.

Source: Reuters, AFP