London (AP) – EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to make a breakthrough Saturday during their phone call on the Brexit trade pact.
Both parties confirmed that, while there had been some recent progress, important differences still existed, particularly in the areas of competitive conditions and fisheries. As planned, Brussels and London want to continue negotiations on Monday. But time is extremely short.
A British government spokesman said both sides wanted to redouble their efforts to reach an agreement. We will continue to work together intensively next week, von der Leyen also tweeted after the balance sheet conversation. You and Johnson also want to stay in direct contact.
The transition phase of Brexit will end in less than two months. Then Britain leaves the EU single market and the customs union. Without a contract there is the risk of tariffs and other trade barriers.
Johnson told UK broadcaster Sky News on Friday that he was still waiting for a deal. An agreement could be reached in seven to ten days. Consequently, a decision could be made next weekend.
Talks between the EU and Britain were very slow for many months. Meanwhile, London even left the negotiating table. Brussels had originally stated that an agreement had to be reached before the end of October so that a treaty could still be ratified. The deadline passed, but the talks continued.
In view of the corona pandemic, the pressure on London has increased considerably to reach an agreement with Brussels and thus avoid further economic damage. Critics accuse Johnson of being a bad crisis manager. It reacted too late and incorrectly to the pandemic and thus harmed the country.
In Britain, Johnson is also suspected of waiting for the outcome of the US presidential election. Donald Trump is a supporter of Brexit and a proponent of a trade deal between the United States and the United Kingdom. His Democratic challenger Joe Biden, however, is more attached to the EU: “Biden is not a fan of Brexit,” former British ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch told the BBC on Saturday. According to the media, if Biden wins, the chances of a trade pact between London and Brussels will increase. Much indicated Saturday that Trump would have to vacate the White House.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the consequences would be enormous: Thousands of trucks are forecast to get stuck due to border controls in the Dover area and many supermarket and pharmacy shelves will be empty. EU states would also be affected. Tens of thousands of jobs are at risk, the Federation of German Industry (BDI) recently warned. Internal political upheavals threaten Britain. Scotland’s desire for independence could only grow.