EU, Britain Face Messy Divorce After Talks Breakdown

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By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) – European leaders have warned that Britain’s exit from the European Union will likely be without a crucial deal on $1 trillion in annual trade. Britain already quit the EU in January, but it remained in the EU single market and customs union during a transition period.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Friday that it was very likely that talks would fail as the December 31 deadline approaches. He made it clear that Britain might leave the European Union’s orbit without a trade agreement

In separate remarks, Johnson said their negotiations were snagged on regulatory measures and fishing rights. “The deal on the table is really not at the moment right for the UK,” he said. “They’ve brought back the idea of this equivalence between the UK and the EU, which basically means that whatever new laws they brought in, we would have to follow. Or else we face punishments, sanctions, tariffs, or whatever” he complained.

“And the second thing obviously is fisheries where many years after people have voted to leave the EU we wouldn’t still have control of our waters,” Johnson added.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive, is also pessimistic about the prospects of a breakthrough in talks with Britain. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen suggested that both sides should prepare for a messy divorce. “It is difficult,” she warned.


“We are willing to grant access to the single market to our British friends; it is the largest single market in the world. But the conditions have to be fair. They have to be fair to our workers and for our companies. And this fine balance has not been achieved so far,” Von der Leyen noted.

“Our negotiators are still working, and we will make a decision on Sunday,” she told reporters in Brussels. Markets didn’t like that news. The British pound tumbled, and stocks fell as investors started to price in the risk of a chaotic end to the five-year Brexit crisis.

The standoff overshadowed the European Union summit. Leaders did agree on a 1.8 trillion euro ($2.2 trillion) EU budget and coronavirus recovery fund after Hungary and Poland withdrew their veto. Both EU member states threatened to torpedo funds if payments were tied to rule-of-law standards.

The compromise, brokered by Germany — which holds the EU’s rotating presidency — theoretically still ties the funding to respect for rule-of-law standards. But sanctions can’t be triggered before the European Court of Justice rules on the new regulations’ legality.

Hungary and Poland have been criticized by the EU over their perceived crackdown on independent media and limiting the judiciary and other institutions’ independence. Besides, the European Commission will have to determine how the mechanism will work. Experts suggest the legal wrangling could take up to two years.

That is good news for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who faces elections in 2022. The was deal a victory for Europe and a victory for common sense, he claimed. “It is obvious that our nations and so many millions of people are in real because of the pandemic and the economic consequences of that, we have to behave reasonably. And to find a way for reliable approaches and a victory for common sense.”

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