The talks on a post-Brexit trade agreement will continue over the weekend as the European Parliament’s deadline looms.
MEPs have said that if they are to be able to ratify it before the end of the Brexit transition period on Dec. 31, they need to see the terms of a deal by Sunday night.
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However, it is thought that if talks continue beyond this point and formal ratification takes place in the new year, EU leaders could provisionally rubber-stamp the deal.
France’s Minister for European Affairs, Clement Beaune, said on Saturday that it was unlikely that Sunday would be a tough deadline.
“It would be normal not to say ‘Well, it’s Sunday night, so let’s pack up and sacrifice everything,'” the Guardian website quoted him as saying.
“It may be hard and sometimes difficult to understand, but it is necessary to take the time and, in any case, not to sacrifice our interests under the pressure of a calendar.”
Here is a joint statement by @BorisJohnson and @vonderleyen on the situation in our talks with the EU at pic.twitter.com/dYYwAI20Y88
– David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) 7/12/2020
Meanwhile, MPs in the UK are poised to return from their Christmas break to Westminster if a deal can be reached in the final days of the year.
Both sides have recognized that if there is to be a breakthrough, important differences still need to be overcome.
After months of sparring over “level playing field” rules on fair competition, fisheries appear to be the final hurdle to overcome.
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Although the fishing industry is a tiny part of the EU and UK economies, on both sides of the Channel, it has enormous political resonance.
While the U.K. has It states that countries such as France, as an independent, sovereign nation, have the right to take control of their waters and are determined to defend their fishermen, who would lose their livelihoods if they were no longer able to fish in British waters.
If there is no agreement by Dec. 31, Britain will leave the single market and customs union and begin trading with the EU on World Trade Organization terms – with the imposition of tariffs that may lead to higher prices in stores.