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Brexit talks: Will there be a Brexit deal this week? What are the sticking points?
December 3, 2020
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Many thought a deal would have been reached by now, but there are several sticking points neither side can reach an agreement on, all still proving to be a thorn in the side of negotiations at this late stage. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost are holding make or break talks in London this week.
Talks stretched into the night on Wednesday as the clock ticks down, with several boxes of pizza were delivered to the talks venue in London.
The UK will exit the transition period and leave the single market and customs union on December 31.
The Prime Minister has remained committed to not budging on demands.
At a Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said: “I think our friends know what the UK’s bottom line is and what people voted for on June 23, 2016 – they voted to take back control.
“It’s about making sure that the UK is able to run its own laws, its own fisheries and so on.”
Meanwhile, Michel Barnier has been warned by other EU member states to not concede too much to the UK’s demands.
Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, briefed European ambassadors and MEPs yesterday after France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark raised concerns over the shape of current talks.
An EU diplomat said: “As we are entering the endgame of Brexit negotiations, some member states are becoming a bit jittery.
“So this was mostly an exercise to calm nerves in Paris and elsewhere, and to reassure member states that Team Barnier will continue to defend core EU interests.”
Will there be a deal this week?
While both sides have vocalised their commitment to securing a deal before time runs out, there a few signs either side is willing to budge on the key sticking points.
The two sides disagree on how much access European fishing boats should have to British waters, and how much they would be allowed to catch once the UK has completed the transition.
They are also odds over how strictly the UK should follow the EU’s level playing field provisions.
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This concerns competition laws and applies in particular to once it exits the EU’s single market.
Both sides are further divided over how any such rules would be enforced following a deal.
It is currently unclear who could be the first to budge – and whether either side will budge at all.
Mr Frost suggested a “deal is still possible” in a series of tweets on Friday, but warned that an agreement must “must fully respect UK sovereignty”.
He said: “That is not just a word – it has practical consequences.
“That includes: controlling our borders; deciding ourselves on a robust and principled subsidy control system; and controlling our fishing waters.”
Mr Barnier has also warned there is significant ground to cover.
If no deal is brokered between the two, the UK and the EU will immediately begin trading on World Trade Organisation rules, which will bring into play financial tariffs, quotes, and other regulatory barriers on trade.