Wednesday, June 7, 2023

PM Johnson and EU chief seek to break Brexit impasse

PM Johnson and EU chief seek to break Brexit impasse
December 5, 2020

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday to try to break an impasse in trade talks with time running out to avoid a chaotic end to the Brexit saga.

Britain left the European Union on Jan. 31 but rules governing trade, travel and business have remained unchanged during a transition period which ends on Dec. 31, when a new relationship will be established - with or without a deal.

The talks between Johnson and von der Leyen could provide the political impetus to move the sides closer to bridging their substantial differences, or highlight how the “red lines” on both sides mean a deal remains out of reach.

If the two sides fail to reach a deal, the five-year Brexit divorce will end messily just as Britain and Europe grapple with the vast economic cost of the COVID-19 outbreak.

British and EU negotiators paused trade talks on Friday to call in their leaders to try to narrow the gaps and get an agreement after a week of negotiations failed to bridge significant divergences between the two sides.

“We keep calm, as always, and if there is still a way, we will see,” EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told broadcasters in London as he left for Brussels.

Johnson was expected to speak to Barnier’s UK counterpart David Frost and other officials on Saturday morning, ahead of the von der Leyen call.