Some member states becoming jittery as we enter Brexit endgame — EU Diplomat

Michel Barnier in London

Michel Barnier in London

Mr Johnson remains "optimistic" that Britain can get a post-Brexit trade deal, Downing Street has said amid warnings talks with the European Union have reached a "make or break" point.

Face-to-face discussions resumed in London over the weekend, after chief European Union negotiator Michel Barnier left self-isolation following a colleague's positive Covid-19 test last week.

Negotiations in London towards an EU-UK deal are deadlocked and failure to clinch a deal would create serious economic disruption both in Britain and the 27 EU member states.

But he also used the closed-door meetings to set out compromises that are being examined, including a transitional period for fishing rights and a broader review clause for the trade deal, saying Brussels and London needed to assess by the end of this week whether an agreement was possible.

Separately, another senior European Union diplomat was reported, as saying that the ambassadors told Barnier that he should keep negotiating, but the substance is of more importance than the December 31 timetable.

The EMA was located in London until previous year, but moved to Amsterdam as part of Britain's slow divorce from the European Union. In a sign of how the endgame of negotiations is stoking internal divisions, diplomats on Tuesday voiced concerns that European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who is receiving daily updates on the talks, might be tempted to compromise too much to secure a deal.

"That is going to have to stop somewhere", the source added, asking not to be named because he was not authorised to speak publicly.

Another diplomat said the European Commission had been given a "serious warning" from France that it was making unsafe concessions on key negotiating lines "that risked dividing member states".

In any event, negotiations are reportedly 95% done (it's always that last 5% that's the most hard!), with the final sticking points relating to state aid, fair competition, fishing rights, and conflict resolution mechanisms.

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"We want an agreement to be reached on the future relationship with Great Britain".

Britain's Office for Budget Responsibility said last week that failure to agree a free trade deal would wipe an extra 2% off United Kingdom economic output in addition to the 4% drop from leaving the bloc with a deal while driving up inflation, unemployment and public borrowing.

Germany, already the bloc's most economically powerful nation, now holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Pressed to give a clearer answer, Johnson said he was exercising a "self-denying ordinance" of diplomacy and tact.

The main source of discord is over how to establish a level of EU-UK alignment on health, labour and environment regulations, while also ensuring Britain's newly found sovereignty.

"Our fishermen are no less important than theirs and they didn't have the right to vote in the referendum", Beaune told reporters during a visit to Madrid, in reference to the UK's vote of 2016. Several self-imposed deadlines to reach an accord have come and gone.

Any deal Barnier brings home from London will need the ratification of EU member states as well as the European Parliament.

Another Brussels-based diplomat, however, said they could drag on until December 10, when European leaders hold a summit and might have to approve or veto whatever offer is on the table.

The government's critics say it is putting the onus on business to take the hit from a new customs regime rather than equipping them with the tools to deal with what they fear will be chaos at the border, even if the government secures a deal.

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