EU tells UK post-Brexit deal vital during virus crisis
London: The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator told Britain on Sunday that the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus crisis made it especially important the sides reach a new trade deal.
EU and UK negotiators will enter a fourth and last scheduled round of talks this week that could determine if a comprehensive new agreement is struck by the year-end deadline.
Britain formally left the other 27 EU nations in January but still largely operates as if it were a member of the bloc under a year-long transition for both sides to adjust to the new realities.
Brexit supporters are also upset that London will continue making contributions to the EU budget during the transition under a deal reached last year.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed not to extend the talks past the current deadline — something he must do by the end of June — and the prospects of a broad new deal look bleak. Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier told The Sunday Times that London and Brussels could not afford to make the economic situation even worse by breaking off their nearly 50-year partnership without arrangements for what comes next. “If we don’t get an agreement then that will have even more consequences. And then of course those will be added to the already very serious consequences of the coronavirus crisis,” Barnier said. – AFP