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Leaders to push Brexit trade talks beyond Sunday deadline

WorldDec 13, 2020 11:31PM ET
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3/3 © Reuters. EU Commission President von der Leyen meets British PM Johnson in Brussels 2/3

By Kate Abnett and Costas Pitas

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) - London and Brussels agreed on Sunday to "go the extra mile" in coming days to try to reach an elusive trade agreement despite missing their latest deadline to avert a turbulent exit for Britain from the European Union's orbit at the end of the month.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the president of the EU's executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen had given negotiators a Sunday deadline to find a way to resolve an impasse on arrangements that would guarantee Britain zero-tariff and zero-quota access to the EU's single market.

On Sunday they mandated negotiators to continue, although Johnson sounded a downbeat note on prospects for a breakthrough.

"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," Johnson and von der Leyen said in a joint statement.

Britain quit the EU in January but remains an informal member until Dec. 31 - the end of a transition period during which it has remained in the EU single market and customs union.

Johnson said the two sides would try to be as creative as possible but Britain could not compromise on key "red lines" so the most likely option was no deal, with trade reverting to the non-concessionary terms set by the World Trade Organization.

A final Brexit without a trade deal would damage the economies of Europe, send shockwaves through financial markets, snarl borders and sow chaos through the delicate supply chains across Europe and beyond.

"Every opportunity to reach a deal is highly welcome," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin.

The two sides have struggled to agree on fishing rights in British waters and EU demands that Britain face consequences if in the future it diverges from the bloc's rules for fair competition - what it calls a level playing field.

Ireland's foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said that despite recent comments from the British side, he understood that there was largely agreement on maintaining existing standards.

"I think both sides do want a deal and they want a deal now," Coveney told national broadcaster RTE. "My view is that a deal can be done, but it really needs to be done within the next few days."

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will brief ambassadors from the bloc on Monday morning about the state of negotiations. The envoys will then review the situation, Sebastian Fischer, an EU spokesman for Germany, which holds the bloc's rotating presidency, said on Twitter.

TIME RUNNING SHORT

With a succession of deadlines missed, time is now critically short.

"The next days will be important," the 27 EU member states were due to say in response to the decision to continue talks, according to diplomatic sources in the bloc's hub Brussels.

EU diplomats told Reuters if there was no time for parliamentary approval by the EU parliament, EU member states could endorse an agreement reached by negotiators to allow for "provisional application".

The British government has warned that even with a trade deal, 7,000 trucks heading for Channel ports in south-east England could be held in 100-km (62-mile) queues if companies do not prepare the extra paperwork required.

Britain is expected to fast-track the movement of some perishable goods when its transition period ends to help reduce the expected disruption at ports.

FISHING WATERS

The Ministry of Defence said four Royal Navy patrol ships will be ready on Jan. 1 to help protect Britain's fishing waters in the event of no deal.

There are concerns about possible skirmishes between British and foreign fishing vessels under that scenario because existing rules that give EU boats access to British waters will expire.

European Council President Charles Michel told France Inter radio the bloc would keep its cool.

"I will not say like Donald Trump might that our boats are bigger than theirs, because I try to be serious. On the European side, we will keep our composure," he said.

Leaders to push Brexit trade talks beyond Sunday deadline
 

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Comments (9)
About Face
About Face Dec 13, 2020 11:39PM ET
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There is no hard Brexit the way Johnson is selling to the UK parliament. Come whichever deadest of the dead lines, a deal will be struck, albeit not what both wanted publicly but knows it privately. There is it, another show, another deal.
Costinho Mokoena
Costinho Mokoena Dec 13, 2020 1:35PM ET
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These chalatans cant negotiate
Josh Modern
JoshModern Dec 13, 2020 12:53PM ET
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when I hear or read "brexit," or "us stimulus " my mind fades to black into the dark empty void that is nothingness
Stephen Edegwafe
Stephen Edegwafe Dec 13, 2020 11:06AM ET
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Forget about brexit trade deal or not is a word using in manipulating the gbp look your 30 minute time is very clear that gbpusd is very bullish on Monday because there is consolidation in Eurgbp and dollar index both Eurgbp and dollar index are below or equal 50 RSI
John Chiyani
John Chiyani Dec 13, 2020 11:06AM ET
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lets see when monday ends lol
Tyler Phillils
Tyler Phillils Dec 13, 2020 11:06AM ET
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The value of a currency is directly related to its GDP. A line of trucks 62 miles long at the border doesn’t produce revenue that adds to GDP. Its that simple...
Tyler Phillils
Tyler Phillils Dec 13, 2020 11:06AM ET
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...Royal Navy intercepting commercial fishing does not add to GDP. Its that simple...
Mr Howell
Mr Howell Dec 13, 2020 10:32AM ET
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They have been using this talk to manipulate GBP price.
Henrik Lindberg
Henrik Dec 13, 2020 9:44AM ET
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Stop using the word deadline. It has lost it's meaning.
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd Dec 13, 2020 9:44AM ET
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Also, why Johnson wears mask? He already had covid. People get crazier every day.
Dirk Peter van Dellen
Dirk_P Dec 13, 2020 9:44AM ET
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Mask is great for Boris, now he can stick his tongue out when ever he feels like it ;) ....
Adrian White
Adrian White Dec 13, 2020 9:44AM ET
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New Jazenevd, because unlike Trump, Johnson actually cares about trying to set a good example to his citizens. Also, it's well-known that immunity is not permanent and may only last about 3 months.
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd Dec 13, 2020 9:44AM ET
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Adrian White  Well-known to whom? To slaves, maybe? Free people do not like wearing masks, or similar mandatory orders. It is incompatible with basic ideas of freedom. Of course, slavish souls always comprised and will comprise majority of human population.
graeme hughes
graeme hughes Dec 13, 2020 9:44AM ET
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New Jazenevd  Since when do you have the right to freedom?! Freedom was fought for by our forefathers, but is not a given.. Try collective responsibility, and wear a mask to protect others!
Stratus Angelacus
Stratus Angelacus Dec 13, 2020 9:23AM ET
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Politicians talking for the sake of talking. Mercantilism is what moves the world.
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd Dec 13, 2020 7:51AM ET
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Another phony deadline.
 
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