EU and UK Continue To Negotiate But Britain Prepares For Hard Brexit

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (AFP)

The deadline has passed and there is still no compromise: The negotiations for a trade pact are still going on - in order to avert a no deal.

Despite the self-imposed deadline this Sunday, the European Union and Great Britain will continue to negotiate a Brexit trade agreement. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed on this during a phone call on Sunday. A final decision is thus postponed again.

Both sides had previously named Sunday as the end point for the negotiations. Chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier went looking for a compromise on Sunday morning, but initially there were no signs of a breakthrough. I think there is still a long way to go, said British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Mr. Johnson and Ms. von der Leyen later phoned and extended the deadline. Although one was exhausted after days of talks, the negotiators should continue to look for a compromise, even at this late point in time, said Ms. von der Leyen. A new deadline was initially not mentioned.

No agreement on controversial issues

The time to ratify an agreement in good time by the end of the year is now extremely short. The main points of contention in the negotiations for months have been fair competition, the control of a future agreement and fishing rights for EU fishermen in British waters.

Mr. Johnson intends to boost the domestic market demand
rather than to rely primarily on the international trade agreements.

Great Britain left the EU at the end of January, but is still part of the duty-free internal market until the end of the year. In the absence of a free trade agreement, tariffs and other trade barriers between the UK and the EU will come into effect from January.

According to the rules of the World Trade Organization, around ten per cent tariffs would then be due on British cars and more than 40 per cent on lamb. The government in London has admitted that problems would arise in the major trading ports, followed by supply shortages and rising food prices. Nevertheless, Mr. Johnson has assured that Great Britain will prosper immensely under these circumstances.

The EU fears that Great Britain will cut the social and environmental standards that have previously applied to both sides and support its industry with state money. It therefore insists on a level playing field. The UK accuses the EU, however, of not treating the kingdom like an independent state and of wanting to permanently impose its rules and laws on it.

In the event that a free trade agreement is not reached, experts expect serious consequences for the British economy. Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said there was still a chance to reach an agreement. Both sides must absolutely avoid parting ways without a contract. A no deal would be very bad for everyone, Mr. Martin told the BBC. We are dependent on each other, he added.

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