The Edition

Latest

Brexit talks move to London after tough week in Brussels

06 July 2020, MVT 15:12
British Brexit negotiator David Fros arrives for negotiations with EU representatives at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 29, 2020. The EU and Britain launch an intense five weeks of negotiations on a deal to define their post-Brexit relations on June 29, 2020, with London keen to wrap things up quickly. The new round of talks in Brussels will be the first to be held face-to-face since the coronavirus shutdown combined with the two sides' entrenched positions to stall progress. POTO: JOHN THYS / AFP
06 July 2020, MVT 15:12

Britain's separation talks with the European Union resume Monday with few signs of compromise on a new trade agreement and time running out to avoid a messy split.

London will host EU negotiator Michel Barnier after a round of face-to-face talks ended a day early last week in Brussels because of deep divides in the sides' approach.

Barnier said after ending the negotiations last Thursday that "serious divergences remain".

His UK counterpart David Frost said there were "significant differences" that meant the sides were still searching for basic "principles underlying an agreement".

And German Chancellor Angela Merkel said upon taking over help of the EU's rotating presidency Wednesday that both her country and the 27-nation bloc "should prepare for the case that an agreement is not reached".

Britain followed through on the results of a 2016 EU membership referendum and officially pulled out of the bloc in January after nearly half a century.

But a standstill transition period that ends on December 31 allows the UK to effectively function as if it were still a member.

London and Brussels are supposed to agree new trade terms in the meantime that prevent ties from reverting to the minimum standards -- and accompanying high tariffs and quotas -- of the World Trade Organization.

British businesses fear that possibility and want Prime Minister Boris Johnson to give them guidance as soon as possible about whether a trade deal is feasible or not.

This would give them a chance to trigger costly contingency planning aimed at disrupting trade and business activity as little as possible.

However, reports indicate that EU officials feel much less pressure to strike a quick agreement and are suggesting that one could still be done by late October.

London, United Kingdom | AFP

MORE ON WORLD