The wrangling over a post-Brexit trade pact between the EU and Britain continued on Sunday, the day the European Parliament set as the last opportunity for the agreement to be reached.
Fears are growing that the sides will be unable to break the impasse, potentially resulting in Britain’s chaotic year-end crash out of the EU’s single market and customs union.
It’s been over four years since Britain voted to leave the EU. It formally left at the end of January but remains in the single market as part of a transition period until the end of this year.
Their trade ties are tightly intertwined.If no deal is clinched, disruptive tariffs and customs checks will be instated, perhaps massively snarling up traffic on the border. Anxiety is also high over a potential shortage in essential goods.
As the talks continued through the weekend, British media quoted government circles in London as saying on Sunday that Brussels still needed a “substantial shift” in its position.
The sources also stuck a downbeat tone on the prospect for a deal, saying it was looking increasingly less likely, with fishing rights now seen as the main stumbling block.
Deadlines have repeatedly been blown in the Brexit crisis, and the European Parliament’s Sunday finishing date could easily be another. London has repeatedly said that December 31 is its final moment for a deal.
The European Parliament “stands ready” to hold an emergency session for ratification but only if “an agreement is reached by midnight on Sunday,” its political group leaders said in a joint statement.