By Monique Dyer | Contributor
The trade talks between Britain and the EU are in their final days. Much has changed since the UK decided to leave the European Union in 2016. The trade negotiations have been filled with disagreements from the start and the future looks no more promising.
The UK-EU have until the 31 of December to sign and ratify a new trade deal before the Brexit transition period ends. If Britain were to leave without a deal it could mean that the UK and EU would impose tariffs on each others goods, likely meaning an increase in the prices of common goods.
The main disagreements are currently based around fishing rights as well as business competition rules known as a ‘level playing field’. The UK wants a right to self-determination stating that it’s waters and businesses should be under its own control since the point of Brexit was to break free from EU rules and regulations. They also disagree on how the Trade Agreement will be enforced such as how trade disputes will be resolved.
Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursala von der Leyen have had numerous phone calls within the past week and Boris Johnson has now met with Mrs von der Leyen in Brussels to work through the list of contentious issues. This comes after talks between the UK chief negotiator Lord Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier ended in a deadlock. The hope is that progress at the political level will help smooth the negotiation process.
While both sides claim to want to get a trade deal through, they are also stressing to businesses to be prepared for a realistic outcome of a no deal.
The Cabinet Officer Minister Penny Mordaunt told the House of Commons that “We are all working to get a deal, but the only way that’s possible is if it is compatible with our sovereignty”, she went on to explain that the UK would stop negotiations if the EU could not “find compromises”.
The European Commission has stated that they “are fully committed to substantial negotiations” and that they “have always said and continue to say it’s the substance that prevails over the timing”.
The good news is that in separate talks on Tuesday, the EU and the UK reached an agreement on the special trade arrangements for Northern Ireland. It includes post-brexit trading rules and border checks. This has also meant that the UK has scrapped it’s bill which would have overridden some of it’s Brexit commitments which would have likely breached international law.
Many political commentators view a No Deal as a significant and even likely possibility. The disagreements on the trade deal are not simply about fishing or business rights but instead a clash of ideologies and international prestige. Thus, both are prepared to walk away from the talks if needed. If the two sides can reach an agreement the challenge will then be to get it passed through parliament quick enough.
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