UK-EU trade talks go into the weekend after France toughens negotiating stance

Fri 4 Dec 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

The UK-EU trade talks are set to continue into the weekend with a no-deal outcome still on the table.

UK officials claimed that the chances of a deal being reached receded yesterday (3 December) due to French lobbying for a hardening of the EU stance on fisheries and state-aid. 

The Guardian reports that the renewed stand-off may require fresh interjections from prime minister Boris Johnson and European Commision President Ursula von der Leyen. 

EU getting nervous

EU negotiator Michel Barnier is also being kept on a tighter leash by the EU, as member states are getting increasingly nervous that the bloc has conceded too much in the negotiations. 

“We are millimetres from the bottom line of the mandate. For some issues, we’re even on the red line, and we don’t want to cross it,” said one EU diplomat to Politico

Talks into the weekend

Talks go on with Michel Barnier staying in London rather than returning to Brussels today as planned.

The BBC reports a breakthrough is still possible in the next few days, while Spectator editor James Forsyth writes in the Times that a deal has to be done by Monday. 

“There are two reasons that this deadline is, unlike previous ones, not fudgeable. The first is that on Monday the Internal Market Bill returns to the Commons,” he wrote.

“The second is that the EU Council meets next Thursday for the last time this year. Any deal would have to be approved then and that requires a text that the national leaders can examine in their own languages.”

Swiss deal

As talks rumble on, the UK and Switzerland are expected to strike a deal to maintain unrestricted business travel between the two countries, reports the Telegraph

Switzerland is the UK’s fourth largest trading partner, representing 3.3% of the total of UK trade.

Almost 400,000 Brits travelled on business trips to Switzerland last year and will not need to attain work permits to continue doing so in the future.