By Eurasia Business News – November 27, 2020

From January 1, 2021 the UK will be treated by Brussels as a third country, with no more transition regime. Photo credit : Pexels.

The European Union and the United Kingdom have “just a few days” to reach a post-Brexit deal, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned on Friday. The official is due to resume in the evening discussions with his British counterpart David Frost.

Five weeks are left until the UK finally exits the EU’s orbit on December 31.

Travelling to London this evening to continue the talks,” Michel Barnier said in English on his Twitter account. “In line with Belgian rules, my team and I are no longer in quarantine. Physical negotiations can continue.

Negotiations had been taking place remotely for a week after a case of COVID-19 within the EU delegation was detected on November 19. The quarantine period is set at seven days by the Belgian authorities.

It remains unclear whether a trade deal with the UK could be reached on schedule, since the talks have become “difficult”.

On November 23, Michel Barnier said on Twitter that : “After technical discussions this weekend, negotiations continue online today with David Frost and our teams. Time is short. Fundamental divergences still remain, but we are continuing to work hard for a deal.”

The same significant differences persist,” noted Michel Barnier on Twitter.

The main divergences are the issue of competition rules, fisheries and governance, the three issues on which negotiators on both sides have been struggling for weeks.

On November 9, Michel Barnier revealed the three keys to unlock a post-Brexit deal between Brussels and London :

No 1: Respect of EU autonomy and UK sovereignty, effective governance and enforcement mechanisms between international partners ;

No 2: Robust guarantees of free and fair trade & competition based on shared high standards, evolving coherently over time;

No 3: Stable and reciprocal access to markets and fishing opportunities in the interest of both parties.”

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reports on Friday :

 “Clearly there are substantial and important differences still to be bridged but we’re getting on with it […].”

The former London Mayor added : “The likelihood of a deal is very much determined by our friends and partners in the EU — there’s a deal there to be done if they want to do it.

The representatives of the United Kingdom said on Friday that a post-Brexit deal with the European Union “remains possible” despite the lack of time to negotiate and the remaining divergences, warning however that any compromise should “fully respect British sovereignty“.

David Frost, Sherpa and EU adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter on Friday that :

Some people are asking me why we are still talking. My answer is that it’s my job to do my utmost to see if the conditions for a deal exist. It is late, but a deal is still possible, and I will continue to talk until it’s clear that it isn’t.

The British official added :

 “But for a deal to be possible it must fully respect UK sovereignty. […] That includes: controlling our borders; deciding ourselves on a robust and principled subsidy control system; and controlling our fishing waters.”

In a June 2016 referendum, a majority of British voters decided to leave the EU. After almost four years of negotiations, the UK officially left the EU on January 31, 2020 but remains subject to EU rules during a transition that runs until December 31, time for the two parties to agree on the framework of their post-Brexit relationship, in particular in matters of trade, disputes settlement and the sharing of fishing rights.

From January 1, 2021 the UK will be treated by Brussels as a third country, with no more transition regime.

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