You are here: Home » International » News » Economy
Business Standard

EU and Britain to keep talking past Boris Johnson's Brexit deadline

A source close to the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Frost would say agreement was difficult but not impossible if both sides work intensively in the coming weeks

Topics
European Union | Boris Johnson | Britain

Reuters  |  Brussels 

Photo: Reuters
File Photo of UK PM Boris Johnson. Credits: Reuters

The and are set to prolong talks past a mid-October deadline to try bridge stubborn gaps holding up a new trade agreement, according to sources and documents.

As the year-end deadline for a pact on relations with nears, EU leaders meeting on Thursday and Friday will tell their negotiator Michel Barnier to step up talks to get a deal by Jan. 1, 2021, according to a draft of their decision.UK negotiator David Frost is then due to tell Prime Minister if he thinks it is worth continuing the tortuous negotiations, and whether a deal on everything from trade to transport and energy cooperation is achievable in time.

A source close to the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Frost would say agreement was difficult but not impossible if both sides work intensively in the coming weeks.

The EU summit is set to conclude that progress so far is "still not sufficient" to seal a deal, and will also step up preparations for an abrupt split without provisions to avoid trade tariffs or quotas.EU leaders will also tell it must implement the agreed divorce treaty in full.

This refers to a bill going through the UK parliament that would give the government the power to break that treaty. London says that, if its talks with the EU fail, this measure will be needed to protect trade between Northern Ireland and the remainder of the United Kingdom.

"It is in the interests of both sides to have an agreement in place," Charles Michel, chairman of the EU leaders, said ahead of the summit.

"This cannot, however, happen at any price. The coming days are decisive. Key issues include, in particular, the level playing field, fisheries and governance." These areas, covering state aid and other guarantees of fair competition, fishing rights and dispute settlement procedures, have long been the main sticking points.

Fisheries are crucial to France, where coastal communities are politically influential.

"It is out of the question to sacrifice our fishermen," a French official said.

Deadlines

Johnson was due to hold a call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at 1830 GMT.A UK spokesman said fisheries were the starkest among lingering differences, and that Johnson would decide only after the EU summit whether to proceed with negotiations.

The source with knowledge of Frost's views said talks so far had clarified potential agreements on aviation and road haulage, energy ties and future coordination of social benefits.

Gaps have narrowed on trade in goods and services, though these still lack precise arrangements on technical detail including designations of origin on products, the source said.

On corporate subsidies, London wants to have two separate, if related, sets of rules, while the EU is pushing for more detailed joint provisions to govern state aid.

The sides remain fundamentally apart on fisheries despite efforts to come closer, the source said.

Johnson previously said he wanted clarity by Oct. 15 on the chances for a deal, and the EU has said an agreement must come this month to give the European Parliament time to ratify it before 2021.However, sources say the EU could negotiate until mid-November to avoid being blamed for any failure, which would severely damage free trade between the world's largest trading bloc and the sixth-biggest

Neither the EU nor the source who described Frost's thinking mentioned a new firm deadline, beyond the need to have a deal in place from Jan. 1.

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Thu, October 15 2020. 01:29 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
.