Brexit negotiations continue through the weekend amid pessimism on both sides


Published: 2020-12-12 12:26

Last Updated: 2023-09-29 12:48

Photo: Politico
Photo: Politico

Negotiations will continue between Britain and the European Union this weekend, but the chances of concluding a trade deal after the United Kingdom left the bloc are diminishing after London and Brussels expressed their pessimism about the possibility of overcoming their differences.

If there is no breakthrough by Sunday, the deadline set by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the exchanges between the two sides of the English Channel will take place in accordance with World Trade Organization rules, that is, under tariffs and quota regimes.

During a visit to the north of England, Johnson stated that it was "very likely" that the negotiations that ongoing would fail.

Despite the gloomy outlook for economists, the conservative prime minister says this solution would be "brilliant for the UK and we can do exactly what we want from January 1st."

He added, "We still hope," adding that he is waiting for a possible "big proposal" or "big change" from the European Union.

The same pessimism was expressed by von der Leyen, who told the leaders participating in the 27-nation summit in Brussels that hopes for an agreement were "weak."

But Berlin, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, and Dublin, which stands on the front line in Brexit, tried to allay this pessimism and stressed that reaching an agreement "is still possible."

Noting that the "current predominant idea" was the failure of negotiations, Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin said that "similar" statements were made a year ago on a Brexit deal but the negotiations had succeeded.

At the end of the dinner Wednesday in Brussels in an attempt to break the deadlock that has persisted for months, Johnson and von der Leyen talked about the size of the remaining differences and set a deadline until Sunday to determine the "future" of the talks.

The remaining differences are primarily fishing rights; the settlement of differences in the future agreement; and the guarantees demanded by the European Union and London over competition.