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December 08, 2020 @ 10:26 +03:00
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will head to Brussels for urgent talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, amid growing fears on both sides that Brexit trade talks will fail. The two spoke on Monday evening and agreed to meet after they concluded a deal remained far off, despite frantic attempts by their negotiators to break the deadlock as time runs out.
The move is a sign that eight months of negotiations have gone as far they can and, if there is to be a deal, political leaders will now need to step in and broker a compromise. Equally, it suggests both sides still think they have time before the ultimate deadline at the end of the year and aim to use it to extract last-minute concessions.
The two teams are still far apart, with “significant differences” on the three key issues of fisheries, rules for fair competition, and the governance of any deal, they said in a joint statement on Monday evening. Disagreements on those subjects have dogged the negotiations since they began eight months ago.
The British side gave a bleak view of the state of play, warning the negotiations may be headed for failure.
A senior British official said there had been no tangible progress since the atmosphere soured last week and there is every chance they will not reach an agreement. The Europeans were also pessimistic, with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warning of mounting frustration with the British approach.
Coveney said some countries are becoming “resigned” to the idea of Britain crashing out of the EU single market and customs union with no trade deal in place, and the mood in the bloc is starting to shift toward contingency planning.
Boris Johnson to Head to Brussels for Crisis Brexit Talks With EU, Bloomberg, Dec 8