LONDON – Ignoring Sunday’s own deadline, the UK and European Union have announced that they will continue negotiations on a post-Brexit trade agreement after months of tense negotiations.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have authorized the negotiators to continue the dialogue, despite a “no agreement or no agreement” target on Sunday.
“Despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations and the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over again, we both believe that we have a responsibility to do the extra mile at this moment,” they said in a joint statement on Sunday.
While the negotiators are now continuing to reach a last-minute agreement in Brussels, Johnson later reiterated his previous position and told British broadcasters that the two sides were still very far apart on some key issues.
“Where there is life, there is hope, there we will continue the conversation to find out what we can do, the UK will certainly not break away from the negotiations,” he added.
Although Britain withdrew from the 27 blocs in January this year, it will remain an informal member until 31 December as part of the Brexit transition period, where it continued in the EU’s single market and customs union.
Now that less than three weeks remain until the final split of the UK, key aspects of future trade relations remain unresolved.
The two sides have been unable to agree on fishing rights in British waters, and the EU is demanding that Britain face the consequences of eventually deviating from the bloc’s rules on fair competition.
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More than four years have passed since the British voted to leave the EU with 52 to 48 per cent and, according to the Brexiteers slogan, they are “taking back control” of Britain’s borders and laws.
Without a trade agreement, Brexit could severely damage Europe’s economies, which have already been devastated by the coronavirus epidemic, and send shock waves to financial markets.
The Associated Press contributed to the report.
Associated Press consented.