EU, Britain Rush Trade Deal as Brexit Transition Period Nears End
The European Union (EU) has again renewed talks with the United Kingdom (UK) to try to resolve both parties’ differences in fishing quotas and competition issues before the transition period for Brexit ends.
On Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the “outlines” of an agreement were clear and a deal was “there to be done.”
On the other hand, he said that the UK was ready to leave the single market and customs union on December 31 without an agreement with the bloc.
It can be learned that Britain officially withdrew its membership with the EU on January 31 but continues to follow the latter’s rules until the end of the year.
Should there be no agreement made, trade between the two parties will automatically follow the rules of the World Trade Organization, where tariffs will be imposed on each other’s goods and will push up costs for both firms and consumers.
Both sides were willing to craft a deal to avoid taxes but the EU said it will not do a pact “at any price.”
For the UK, it was willing to accept the same terms the EU has with Australia, which it conceives as limited sector-by-sector deals. It would, however, be largely dependent on trading under WTO rules.
“I’ve always been a great enthusiast for a trade deal with our European friends and partners,” Johnson was quoted as saying in an interview with the Associated Press.
“The broad outlines are pretty clear, we just need to get on and do it if we can,” he added.
Prior to the renewed talks, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday that the two parties were making progress in the prior weeks after the EU agreed to discuss specific legal matters.
Large differences, however, remained over the question of access to British fishing waters and regulations on workers’ rights, environmental protection, and state aid.
“[Any deal] must respect the interests and values of the EU and its 27 member states,” EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said in a Twitter post.
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