European Commission admits that trade deal with UK may have become ‘less likely’

A spokesman told reporters, “We are at a very late stage. The more time that goes by the less likely it is that we will have a deal in place on the first of January. This is a statement of fact.”

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

14 Dec 2020

The spokesman’s comments on Monday come with the two sides agreeing to extend the talks.

He added, “We cannot predict the future or what may or may not happen, but we are dedicated towards reaching a deal. Where there is a will there is a way.”

The Commission was also asked about the contingency plans, outlined last Thursday, for fisheries in case there is no deal.

The spokesman said, “These proposals are non-negotiable so as to ensure a legal framework is in place on 1 January in the event of a No Deal. The plans are now with Council and Parliament for adoption.”

“They can only enter into force if the UK adopts the same as the EU side will do. The EU side would have to have same as we are offering the UK. This is important to stress.”

“It is our responsibility to give the talks every chance of success. Fair competition, and a sustainable solution for our fishermen and women, are key to reaching a deal” Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit negotiator

EU fisheries ministers on meet Tuesday.

The spokesman also confirmed that governance is, along with fisheries and the level playing field, still one of the “big issues” yet to be finalised.

Also on Monday, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that “the next few days are important” for negotiations if a trade deal with Britain is going to be in place for January 1.

“It is our responsibility to give the talks every chance of success,” Barnier said in a tweet. “Fair competition, and a sustainable solution for our fishermen and women, are key to reaching a deal.”

On Sunday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a statement.

“We cannot predict the future or what may or may not happen, but we are dedicated towards reaching a deal. Where there is a will there is a way” European Commission spokesman

It reads, “We had a useful phone call this morning. We discussed the major unresolved topics. Our negotiating teams have been working day and night over recent days.”

“And despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over, we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile.”

“We have accordingly mandated our negotiators to continue the talks and to see whether an agreement can, even at this late stage, be reached.”

There is still a long way to go on Brexit talks, Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab also said on Sunday, adding, “We want to be treated like any other independent self-respecting democracy. If the EU can accept that at a political level, then there’s every reason to be confident, but there is still, I think, a long way to go.”

Meanwhile, the latest developments on the EU-UK negotiations on a future partnership after Brexit will be debated on Friday by MEPs.

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