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Brexit Talks Resume Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

An official hangs a Union Jack subsequent to an European Union flag at EU Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019, forward of a European Union Summit on Brexit. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP.


British and EU officers had been scheduled to restart Brexit commerce talks Monday after a break due to the coronavirus, which is making an end-of-year deal look much more unlikely.

After a primary spherical in early March negotiations had been suspended for six weeks as officers centered on the lethal virus sweeping Europe.

The June deadline set by London to evaluate the possibilities of an settlement is now quick approaching.

The novel coronavirus has affected officers straight, hitting each EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart David Frost — after which, dramatically, placing Prime Minister Boris Johnson in intensive care.

Regardless of the ticking clock and the additional strain introduced by the worst world pandemic in dwelling reminiscence, Johnson’s authorities guidelines out extending Britain’s transition interval to barter a future relationship with the EU.

Britain left the EU on January 31 however stays tied to it till the top of December.

Fears are rising that no deal can be reached, that means that WTO guidelines with excessive tariffs and customs limitations would come into drive between the UK and EU.

READ ALSO: Japan COVID-19 Instances Surge Over 10,000 With Hospitals Stretched

That prospect so alarmed the top of the Worldwide Financial Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, that final week she urged Brussels and London to increase their deadline, saying it was in everybody’s pursuits to scale back uncertainty amid the financial turmoil wrought by the pandemic.

However Johnson has remained deaf to the enchantment, regardless of Britain’s finances watchdog warning that the coronavirus lockdown might shrink the nation’s financial system by an enormous 13 p.c in 2020.

Double shock

Due to virus restrictions, this week’s talks will happen by videolink.

Fabian Zuleeg of the European Coverage Centre warned there may very well be “no meaningful negotiations” at this level — due to the technical limitations of video talks and since politicians’ focus is on preventing the pandemic.

In these circumstances, it would in all probability be obligatory to increase the deadline to keep away from Britain crashing out with no deal and going through an additional financial shock on high of the coronavirus recession, Zuleeg mentioned.

“But so far, Brexit has never been about the best economic option. It very much depends on what price Boris Johnson is willing to pay for what is portrayed in the UK as ‘sovereignty’ and ‘independence’,” Zuleeg informed AFP.

A European supply near the talks mentioned a “Johnson Brexit” — sacrificing shut hyperlinks to the EU so as to be freed from its guidelines — was already going to rattle the financial system.

“With corona, it’s going to be a double shock for businesses,” the supply informed AFP.

The virus provides one other layer of problem to an already complicated negotiation, the place, on the finish of the primary spherical in March, the 2 sides might solely word their disagreements quite than make concrete progress.

London is attempting to barter a collection of packages in several domains together with fishing, items, aviation, justice and power. However EU leaders desire a single overarching accord.

The thorny drawback of fishing rights — deeply vital to a number of key EU states, notably France — might derail the entire course of, in response to some in Brussels.

This week’s spherical of talks are to final till Friday. Barnier and Frost had been scheduled to open the proceedings on Monday earlier than their groups begin technical sector-by-sector negotiations on Tuesday.


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