EU-U.K. Brexit negotiations back on as deadline looms
United Kingdom and European Union negotiators were resuming talks Sunday on a post-Brexit trade deal, which remain deadlocked following "significant divergences."
Why it matters: The U.K. and EU hope to make a deal before the transition period ends on Dec. 31, but differences remain on "three critical issues," officials said Saturday.
The state of play: The U.K. officially left the EU this January, but is still part of its economic bloc through the end of this year under a transition period.
- Talks between the two parties were halted on Friday due to "significant divergences on level playing field, governance and fisheries," Britain’s David Frost and the EU’s Michel Barnier said in a joint statement.
- But European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak again on Monday following Sunday's negotiations, they said.
Of note: A key aspect of talks is how to extricate the U.K. from EU customs rules while avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This crucial part of the Good Friday Agreement brought an end to decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
- President-elect Biden is strongly against any such division and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said there's "no chance" of a U.S.-U.K. trade deal passing Congress if Brexit violates the terms of the agreement.
What they're saying: "In a phone call today on the on-going negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom, we welcomed the fact that progress has been achieved in many areas," said von der Leyen and Johnson said in a joint statement.
- "Nevertheless, significant differences remain on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries. Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved."
- "Whilst recognising the seriousness of these differences, we agreed that a further effort should be undertaken by our negotiating teams to assess whether they can be resolved."
- Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin tweeted Saturday, "An agreement is in everyone's best interests. Every effort should be made to reach a deal."
Go deeper: The implications of a "no-deal" Brexit
Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of Sunday's negotiations, Martin's comment and further context on the Irish border.