Trade deal talks continue as negotiators fail to reach agreement
- 21 December 2020
Post-Brexit trade talks will continue on Monday after negotiators failed to reach an agreement over the weekend, APA reports citing BBC.
The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost met in Brussels on Sunday, but key issues remain unresolved.
The European Parliament said talks needed to have ended on Sunday in order for it to ratify a deal by 31 December.
A UK government source told the BBC a deal will not be reached unless there is a "substantial shift" from Brussels.
It is understood there is likely to be a decision before Christmas on whether or not a deal can be reached.
David McAllister, a German MEP and chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, said the European Parliament will not be in a position to grant consent to an agreement this year, as a deal was not reached by midnight on Sunday.
One potential option, should the two sides reach a deal in the coming days, would be for the European Parliament to approve it in principle by 31 December before completing the formal ratification process early next year.
In such an event, short-term measures could potentially be put in place to minimise disruption to cross-channel trade before new legally-binding rules come into force.
The UK and the EU have until 31 December to agree a trade deal, plus other points, such as fishing rights.
Mr Barnier said talks were at a "crucial moment", but any agreement must be "balanced and reciprocal".
"We respect the sovereignty of the UK and we expect the same. Both the EU and Britain must have the right to set their own laws and control their own waters. And we should both be able to act when our interests are at stake," Mr Barnier wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
Whitehall sources have said that it is increasingly likely that the UK will emerge from the transition period without a free trade agreement with the EU.
This will mean that, from 1 January, both sides will rely on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to govern exports and imports. Tariffs could be introduced on goods being sold and bought, potentially affecting product prices.