British and European Union negotiators made a last-ditch effort on Monday to bridge stubborn differences standing in the way of a post-Brexit trade deal, but they had at best 48 hours to avoid a disorderly parting of ways at the end of this month.
“EU-UK negotiations have entered the endgame, time is running out quickly,” said an EU diplomat after the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, gave member states’ envoys to Brussels a downbeat assessment of the state of play.
“It is for the UK to choose between ... a positive outcome or a no-deal outcome.”
With growing fears of no-deal chaos after London finally leaves the EU’s orbit on Dec. 31, talks resumed before British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen review the situation in a call.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin, whose country would be the hardest hit of the 27 EU states if there is no trade accord, put the chances of a deal at 50-50. Investment bank JPMorgan said its odds on a no-deal had risen to one third from 20%.
The British pound tumbled on concerns that there would be no agreement covering annual trade worth nearly $1 trillion.
Barnier told members of the European Parliament in a separate briefing that negotiations could go on until Wednesday, but no further, Ireland’s RTE news said.
REUTERS, 07TH DECEMBER, 2020