The European Union will make one more “final effort” to reach a trade agreement with the United Kingdom before December 31.
This is what EU chief negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, said ahead of a meeting in which he gave diplomats from the 27 member states an explanation about the state of the Brexit talks.
“We are in a crucial phase. We are making one last effort,” Barnier said. Time is running out because, after the turn of the year, the British’s transition phase was still bound mainly by EU agreements after Brexit will lapse.
If there are no agreements on mutual trade, it will fall back on the very unfavourable basic rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This results in, among other things, high import duties on many products and extensive customs controls at the border.
Negotiations between Barnier’s delegations and his British counterpart David Frost are dragging on. At midnight on Sunday, they passed the deadline set by the European Parliament for the negotiators. MEPs wanted to have enough time to be able to deal with a possible agreement before January 1.
Bloomberg news agency reported earlier on Tuesday that the EU had rejected a British concession in the field of fishing.
According to insiders, the United Kingdom proposed to reduce the value of the fish that the EU Member States catch in British waters by 30 percent, but the EU would not want to go further than a 25 percent reduction. Access to UK waters for EU fishermen is one of the final pain points in negotiating a trade deal.