by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – With just over two weeks to the end-of-year deadline, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Monday it is still possible a post-Brexit trade deal could be struck between Britain and the European Union, Deutsche Welle reports.
While Britain formally left the European trading bloc on January 31 this year, the Withdrawal Agreement signed with the EU provided for a transition period during which the status quo would apply until a new trade deal was agreed. In the event no agreement is reached by December 31, the two sides will trade on World Trade Organization terms – with the tariffs, bureaucracy, and barriers that this would give rise to. As there could be harsh consequences for both sides in the event of a no-deal outcome, both parties claim they are working hard to reach an agreement.
After many months of intensive talks with British counterpart David Frost, Barnier told reporters in Brussels that the major issues of fishing rights and fair competition rules have still not been resolved – but that a deal is still possible at this late stage.
In regard to fisheries, Barnier has adamantly stated he is looking for “an agreement that guarantees a reciprocal, I insist, reciprocal access to markets and waters.” On competition rules, the EU is insistent that Britain should not be allowed to undercut its goods on the market. “Free and fair competition, fair and free, equitable and open, the two go together,” Barnier has stated.
Meanwhile, British government sources have told DW that Barnier has been accused of undermining the UK’s decision to leave the EU. “The idea that Britain cannot lay down its own laws misses the point of what Brexit is about,” said one source close to the talks. “We will be an independent, sovereign country as of January 1. It is clear that some in the EU still need to recognize this reality.” Having said a no-deal result is likely at this point, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the weekend that he and his team are nevertheless willing to “go the extra mile” to sign a trade treaty with the EU.
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