In a statement Michel Barnier, the European Union’s top Brexit negotiator said, “very serious divergences” continues to remain in trade talks with Britain suggesting that it would be better off for the bloc to accept disruptions in commerce in the coming eight weeks than yield on its key demands.
“Despite EU efforts to find solutions, very serious divergences remain in level playing field, governance & fisheries. These are essential conditions for any economic partnership,” tweeted Michel Barnier.
“The EU is prepared for all scenarios.”
Agreeing to his tweet, David Frost, his UK counterpart tweeted back “wide divergences remain on some core issues”.
“We continue to work to find solutions that fully respect UK sovereignty”.
The two negotiators spoke after two weeks of intensified talks which failed to yield a breakthrough in negotiations, with sticking points remaining chronic.
Guaranteed fair-play rules for companies, fixing new fishing rights, and agreeing for ways to solve any future trade disputes are the main sticky points.
During a closed-door briefing with 27 national envoys from the EU, Barnier did not provide a timeline or provide any certainty for a trade deal, which faces a mid-November deadline, said a participant.
“He was rather uncertain about a deal,” said the senior diplomat speaking under condition of anonymity.
“The UK does not seem to be engaging sufficiently on key issues,” said a EU diplomat. “Given this situation, a no-deal outcome can’t be excluded.”
Should Britain fail to clinch a trade deal with the EU, the economic fallout would be on both sides, but given the UK’s considerably smaller economy, as compared with the bloc’s, the impact with wide ramifications ranging from social security to energy and trade, would be significantly more. “The mood wasn’t exuberant but it wasn’t despondent either. We’re not in the home straight but we are in the endgame,” said an EU diplomat regarding Barnier’s latest assessment.