Wednesday, 02 December, 2020


European Union chief hails 'better progress' in post-Brexit trade talks

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier
Conrad Doyle | 21 November, 2020, 00:54

Both sides had expected to acquire a trade deal by then to safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs and companies that could endure if Brexit contributes to a sharp end to present trade relations.

France, the Netherlands and Belgium are all pushing European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to set out the EU's worst case scenario plans so businesses have a "safety net" and can start to prepare just in case trade talks fall apart.

So what are the compromises needed to reach a deal?

'January 1, 2021 is getting close; we need a safety net.

A UK Government spokesman said: 'The Commission has informed us that an official in their delegation has tested positive for Covid-19.

Analysts at ING said that there was scope on the upside for sterling against the dollar, while they saw limited upside versus the euro given the lack of a "material announcement on the negotiations".

Mr Frost responded: 'I am in close contact with Michel Barnier about the situation.

The talks were plunged into disarray yesterday after a member of Mr Barnier's team tested positive for Covid-19 and top-level negotiations had to be put on hold.

She said that because work on legal texts had made such progress, further discussions by video over the next days could progress too "since there is now substance where you can go through line by line".

An EU official, who is directly involved in the talks with Britain, said negotiators mostly focused on such elements of corporate fair play as well as divvying up fishing quotas in recent days: "Both of these are still very stuck".

Talks would continue remotely next week, and in person "when it's judged safe to do so", the spokesman added. The teams will continue their work in full respect of guidelines'.

"Nevertheless, there is hope that the negotiations can be concluded quickly if and when the necessary political decisions are taken in London", the diplomat added after member state envoys received an update on the talks. Barnier tested positive in March and Frost self-isolated that same month after developing coronavirus symptoms.

The U.K. left the European Union on January 31, but a transition period when European Union rules apply to trade and other issues runs until the end of December.

In recent days, though, officials on both sides had privately voiced cautious optimism that a deal could be concluded as soon as next week, suggesting the comments by the two leaders may be an attempt to pressure the United Kingdom government to compromise.

The bloc has accused Britain of wanting to retain access to the EU's lucrative markets, much like any European Union country, without agreeing to follow its rules. The EU fears Britain will slash social and environmental standards, and pump state money into United Kingdom industries, becoming a low-regulation economic rival on the bloc's doorstep.

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