Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator of the European Union, said on December 18 that there are only a few hours left for the United Kingdom and the European Union to reach a trade agreement along a very narrow road. The trade deal will prevent the Brexit crisis from having its most volatile outcome in less than two weeks.
Barnier told the European Parliament in Brussels: “This is a critical moment. There is a possibility to reach an agreement, but the road to agreement is very narrow.”
He said: “We find ourselves facing a very serious situation. If we want this agreement to come into effect on January 1, there will be little time left for us, only a few hours left to effectively complete these negotiations.
During his visit to northwest England on the 18th, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the door to dialogue with the EU is still open, but the negotiations are very difficult.
According to Reuters London/Brussels on December 17, Britain and the European Union expressed pessimism about the trade negotiations between the two sides on the 17th. A spokesman for British Prime Minister Johnson said that unless the EU changes its position “drastically”, it is “very likely” that an agreement will not be reached.
According to the report, two weeks before the final departure of the UK from the European Union, European Commission President von der Leyen was not optimistic, saying that overcoming the “great differences” that still exist will be “very challenging”.
As the Brexit transition period will end on December 31, both sides call for each other to change their positions and work to protect nearly $1 trillion worth of trade from tariffs and quotas.
Since the UK left the EU in January this year, the negotiations have largely been deadlocked by two issues: the EU’s fishing rights in British waters and the creation of an environment that provides fair competition rules for both sides.
After Johnson and von der Leyen assessed the negotiations by phone, a spokesman for Johnson said: “The Prime Minister stressed that the current situation of the negotiations is serious.”
The spokesman also said: “Time is very tight. It now seems that unless the EU changes its position significantly, it is likely that an agreement will not be reached. “If there is no agreement, the UK and the EU will be separated like friends and the UK will trade with the EU in the Australian way,” the Prime Minister said.
Australia does not have a free trade agreement with the EU, and most of their trade is carried out in accordance with the rules of the World Trade Organization.
Von der Leyen said she welcomed “substantial progress” in the negotiations.
She tweeted: “However, the huge divide still needs to be bridged, especially in fisheries. It will be very challenging to bridge these differences. She also added that negotiations are still going on.
After the two leaders called, Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost tweeted that the situation was very serious and that “progress seems to be blocked”.
Nick Gibb, the British Secretary of State for School Affairs, said on the 18th that Britain hopes to reach a free trade agreement with the European Union, but unless the European Union changes its position and respects British sovereignty, Britain is ready to withdraw from the negotiations without an agreement.