The British Prime Minister and a senior EU official brace for a critical appeal as the heated talks over a post-Brexit trade deal drag on.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are expected to hold another crisis appeal, as talks on a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the European Union roll over time.
The pair are expected to speak Wednesday or Thursday, sources within the bloc have told Reuters news agency, in a bid to resolve lingering disagreements over fishing rights and competition rules.
Both sides want to avoid a rocky divorce at the end of this year, when the Brexit transition period ends on December 31.
But while they say they want to strike a deal on future trade relations before then, negotiations have been stalled since the UK officially left the EU on January 31.
Speculation was mounting on Wednesday that a deal could be announced shortly, with Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin suggesting that a deal was, overall, more likely to be negotiated than not, despite a “wide” gap on the fish always separating the pair.
“Overall, I think given the progress that has been made, there should be an agreement,” Martin told national TV station RTE.
“A no-deal would be a terrible shock to the economic system in addition to COVID-19.”
“ Serious points of disagreement ”
British officials also expressed hope that a deal could be reached, but warned that significant divisions continued to hamper talks.
“I am still reasonably optimistic, but there is no news for you this morning,” Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told UK channel Sky News.
“There are always the same serious points of disagreement, whether it is fishing or equal opportunities,” he added. “At the moment, progress is insufficient. This is not an agreement the Prime Minister thinks he can sign us to.
Johnson, who is also grappling with a worsening COVID-19 epidemic and border crisis in Europe’s busiest truck port, said the UK would “seize every opportunity that Brexit offers And “would thrive mightily” with or without a trade deal.
But the UK’s financial watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), predicted a 4% drop in long-term national economic output due to the UK’s departure from the EU, even in the event of a free trade agreement. .
A no-deal scenario – in which the UK and the EU would be forced to comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules from January 1 – would wipe out the UK’s economic output by 2% – United in 2021 and would increase inflation, unemployment and government borrowing, according to the OBR.
WTO rules would result in financial tariffs, quotas and other regulatory barriers to trade, potentially affecting hundreds of billions of pounds in annual trade between the UK and the EU.
A deal would mean a less chaotic breakup, but the two sides will still have to get any sealed deal approved by their respective parliaments.
The UK Parliament would likely sign any deal before the end of the year, as Johnson’s ruling Tory party has a strong majority in the legislature.
But things are more complicated on the EU side, with the leaders of its 27 member states being required to approve any deal before it goes to the European Parliament for approval.
It is not known whether there is sufficient time for this process to be completed by December 31, although EU law includes a provision for the signing and provisional application of agreements, without the approval of his parliament.