British PM to Meet EC President as Clock Ticks on Trade Deal
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to sit with European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen this week in a last-ditch to strike a trade deal amid the looming end of the Brexit transition period.
Following a 90-minute phone call with von der Leyen, Johnson was expected to fly to Brussels this week as chief negotiators failed to strike a free-trade deal amid differing views.
In a joint statement, the European Union and the UK said that certain conditions were not met, with significant differences still lingering on issues of fishing, business competition rules, and governance of any deal.
It can be recalled that the European Union last month proposed an 18% share to Britain of fish sales caught in British waters.
On average, European vessels catch 650 million euros worth of fish from UK waters every year. The proposed amount would give the UK roughly 117 million euros yearly.
“We asked our chief negotiators and their teams to prepare an overview of the remaining differences to be discussed in a physical meeting in Brussels in the coming days,” the leaders were quoted as saying in the statement.
An unidentified senior UK government official was quoted that a deal still may not be possible between the EC and the UK leaders, saying talks “were in the same position now as they were on Friday” and that “we have made no tangible progress.
“It’s clear this must now continue politically. Whilst we do not consider this process to be closed, things are looking very tricky and there’s every chance we are not going to get there,” the source added.
Johnson has publicly announced that the UK will prosper even without a trade deal with the EU, saying he will not accept any proposal that would undermine its status as a sovereign and independent country.
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.
“[If] the EU [does not] respect the sovereignty of the UK, we will leave on Australian terms and [I am] confident that we will prosper,” he was quoted as saying.
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 that will further push up costs for both firms and consumers.
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