The European Union’s 27 leaders are reportedly gearing up for a final push in negotiations with the UK over a post-Brexit deal, writes The Sun.
EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis cited the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier as saying that one "final push" would be made to try and hammer out a deal.
“Michel Barnier said there was a great intensity in the negotiations and they are now in a final push to reach a deal. However, there are still some important elements to be resolved and some substantial work to do,” said Dombrovskis.
🇪🇺🇬🇧 The @vonderleyen @EU_Commission negotiating team is continuing negotiations in Brussels this week w/ @DavidGHFrost & team.— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) November 16, 2020
With @Europarl_EN & all Member States, we remain determined, patient, respectful.
We want our future cooperation to be open but fair in all areas. pic.twitter.com/l54suVhY0I
In an effort to persuade Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to agree to late concessions in the agreement charting the two sides’ relationship after the end of the Brexit transition period, a raft of new emergency No Deal plans will reportedly be ordered up.
According to cited Brussels sources, leaders of the European Union countries were prepared to brandish "strong words" to warn that it was time to brace for No Deal.
Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron had vowed to scupper any deal that “sacrifices” French fishermen, as he pressured the UK over fishing rights post-Brexit.
"Of course this sends out a political signal. This is a sign that we are really going to prepare," an EU diplomat was cited as saying by the outlet.
Concerned that time was running out to ratify any deal before the end of the year, a senior EU source was quoted as bemoaning that they were “already in extra time".
‘Sticking Points’ Unresolved
According to other EU sources, little to no headway had been reached on the principal sticking points, including governance, fisheries, and the level playing field. The latter is a set of common rules and standards that prevent companies in one country from undercutting another.
On fishing quotas, where the UK has insisted it will not bow to European Union demands for access to fishing waters, the sides are "nowhere near" agreeing, it was reported.
On regulatory alignment when the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, sources claimed that recent talks have "gone backwards".
Negotiations between Brussels and London have stalled, with diplomatic sources cited as saying there was "no reason for optimism", and the two sides are "still quite far apart".
A gloomy warning was also reportedly made, signalling that the ‘head-butting’ can only continue for a few more days into the middle of next week. After then, sources are cautioning that "time will get the better of us".
An effort to pressure No 10 was also made by the European Central Bank (ECB).
In its regulatory newsletter, the ECB stated that despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the UK-based banks would have to move operations to the continent if they want to keep serving EU clients.
“It is important to note that remote working arrangements do not change the fundamental need to relocate staff to the EU. Ensuring that banks have a physical presence within the EU to the extent necessary is a prerequisite for achieving prudent risk management and effective supervision,” said the ECB.
When asked about the implications for the looming 31 December deadline for the end to the current transition period, the EU Commission Vice President replied:
“We have seen so many deadlines come and go but one deadline that we cannot move is 1 January when the current transitional period ends.”
After the UK left the EU on 31 January, both sides entered an 11-month transition period to map their future trade relations.
If no compromise is negotiated before the end of the year, the WTO rules are set to take effect in January, including customs tariffs and full border checks for goods which are crossing the English Channel.