Boris Johnson in emergency Brexit meeting with Ursula von der Leyen over EU deal deadlock

John Dunne
·3-min read
<p>Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen will speak to try and break the Brexit impasse</p> (AFP)

Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen will speak to try and break the Brexit impasse

(AFP)

Boris Johnson is to hold emergency talks with the President of the European Commission after Brexit trade talks hit an impasse.

The Prime Minister and Ursula von der Leyen are going to the negotiating table after their chief negotiators failed to find common ground on issues including fishing policy.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier left London on Saturday giving little indication that he thought a deal could be secured.

He said: “We keep calm, as always, and if there is still a way, we will see.”

An EU official said on Saturday that no emergency summit of European Union leaders on Brexit is planned at this stage adding that there was already a gathering scheduled for December 10 to 11.

Mr Barnier had been negotiating with the UK’s negotiator David Frost but talks broke up amid claims by the EU side that the deal being offered did not provide “a level playing field”.

On Friday Mr Barnier said: "After one week of intense negotiations in London, together with David Frost, we agreed today that the conditions for an agreement are not met, due to significant divergences on level playing field, governance and fisheries.

“We agreed to pause the talks in order to brief our principles on the state of play in the negotiations. President von der Leyen and Prime Minister Johnson will discuss the state of play tomorrow afternoon.”

Lord Frost also confirmed the talks were in deadlock and he would have to pass next stage of negotiations to the prime minister.

He said: “After one week of intense negotiations in London, the two chief negotiators agreed today that the conditions for an agreement are not met, due to significant divergences on level playing field, governance and fisheries.

“On this basis, they agreed to pause the talks in order to brief their principles on the start of play in the negotiations.

“President von der Leyen and Prime Minister Johnson will discuss the state of play tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon.”

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

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.

In the absence of a trade deal, the United Kingdom would trade with the EU on World Trade Organization terms, which would lead to new tariffs and potentially significant price rises for some goods.

A no-deal exit is the nightmare scenario for businesses and investors, who say it would snarl borders, spook financial markets and sow chaos through supply chains that stretch across Europe and beyond.

One of the major sticking points in negotiations has been disagreement over how much access to UK waters should be given to the EU fishing fleets.

Europe minister Clement Beaune for the first time publicly declared his country’s plan to vote down the trade deal unless Boris Johnson offers significant concessions on access to Britain’s waters.

Mr Beaune said: “If there were a deal that isn’t good which in our evaluation doesn’t correspond to those interests, we will oppose it.

“France like all its partners has the means of a veto, we must make our own evaluation of course of this deal.

We owe that to the French people, we owe it to our fishermen, and to other economic sectors.”

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