News Analysis: Disagreements VS agreements in UK-EU trade talks

Source: Xinhua| 2020-10-16 00:14:14|Editor: huaxia

by Xinhua writer Gu Zhenqiu

LONDON, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- It comes as no surprise when Britain and the European Union (EU) fail to reach agreement on their future relations by Oct. 15, a deadline set by London for an accord between the two sides of the English Channel.

The day has come, but there is no agreement after lengthy and bumpy negotiations between London and Brussels.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who once threatened to walk away from the post-Brexit negotiations, said on Sept. 7 that if there was a lack of agreement by the time EU leaders meet in Brussels on Oct. 15, he could not see any hope of a deal at all.

Despite technical progress, significant gaps remain between the two sides, particularly in such fields as fisheries and state aid.

Both sides do not want to concede ground on the sticking points, thus leading to the current dilemma.

Before the Oct. 15 deadline, another one set by the EU, Sept. 30, has already been missed.

The EU pushed very hard for Britain to scrap the Internal Market Bill, which is seen as a London effort overriding Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement with the regional bloc.

The EU said that it would "not be shy" to take legal actions against London once an end of September deadline passes for the British prime minister to rewrite the Bill.

The fact is: nothing happened in London and no action has been taken so far by Brussels.

However, there is a Britain-EU consensus although London and Brussels often point a finger at each for the stalemate in the talks.

That is: both sides are taking careful steps in order to prevent the negotiations from breaking down as neither of them wants to shoulder the responsibility for talks failure.

This is because they both want to see an agreement although it is hard to come by.

EU leaders, who are meeting in a summit on Thursday, are expected to tell their chief negotiator Michel Barnier to continue negotiations over "coming weeks", according to news reports from Brussels.

On the other side, a decision from Downing Street is expected on Friday once the EU leaders have given their assessment of the negotiations.

Observers said that the Oct. 15 deadline is soft, but the Dec. 31 deadline is harsher.

London and Brussels started their post-Brexit talks in March after Britain ended its EU membership on Jan. 31, trying to secure a future trade deal before the transition period expires at the end of the year.

Whatever decision emerges from the current EU summit, crunch time has come as the Brexit talks once again get to the make-or-break point.

In short, London will have to make a response as EU leaders piled pressure on Britain for strong concessions, and Brussels will surely react to London's updated stand. Enditem