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- December 7, 2020
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Post-Brexit trade talks hung in the balance this morning as Britain and the European Union made a last-ditch attempt to bridge significant differences and reach a deal that would avoid a disorderly exit in just 24 days.
With growing fears of no-deal chaos after the United Kingdom finally leaves the EU’s orbit on Dec. 31, talks will resume in Brussels before British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen review the situation later this evening.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Sunday the chances of a deal were 50-50. Investment bank JPMorgan said odds of a no-trade deal exit had risen to one third from 20%.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier was “rather downbeat as to the prospects of agreement” when he spoke to national envoys in Brussels earlier this morning, according to one diplomat, adding that Johnson would have to make the ultimate call on a deal.
For weeks, the two sides have been haggling – yet without a result – over fishing rights in British waters, ensuring fair competition for companies and ways to solve future disputes.
In Brussels, an EU diplomat told Reuters that Britain had failed to make the “necessary choices” on fishing and fair competition to make a deal possible on trade – worth nearly $1 trillion each year.
In London, a British lawmaker in Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party said France would have to make concessions on fishing and the EU would have to drop their demands on the level playing field.
Failure to secure a deal would clog borders, upset financial markets and disrupt delicate supply chains across Europe and beyond as the world tries to cope with the vast economic cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With just days left for a deal to be agreed, EU diplomats said it a decisive moment for both the United Kingdom and the bloc which built the ruined nations of Europe into a global power after the devastation of World War Two.