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Friday, March 5, 2021

UK and EU call in leaders to save trade talks

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UK and EU call in leaders to save trade talks
UK and EU call in leaders to save trade talks

Britain and the European Commission's leaders have been called in to try to save the Brexit talks, which have snagged on fishing rights less than a month before the official divorce.

Lucy Fielder reports.

Brexit talks have gone to the wire, and the leaders of Britain and the European commission were stepping in to break the impasse Saturday (December 5).

Talks were paused on Friday to call in Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, to narrow differences sources say center on French demands for fishing rights in British waters.

Chief negotiator Michel Barnier was non-committal as he prepared to board the train back to Brussels.

"Good morning, we keep calm as always and if there is still a way we will see." Months of negotiations have barely moved on the three thorniest issues: fishing rights, fair competition guarantees and ways to solve future disputes.

But neither side has walked away either, showing there are still hopes of reaching a deal.

Almost a trillion dollars' worth of trade is at stake.

Fishing accounts for less than one percent of Britain's GDP but for Brexit supporters, it's a symbol of sovereignty.

Britain formally left the EU at the end of January, but is currently in a transition period.

If no deal is found, it faces a messy divorce at the end of the year, just as it and the rest of Europe grapple with the vast cost of the pandemic.

Talks soured on Thursday when a British government source said the EU had disrupted talks by trying to force further concessions, and France warned it could rebel.

A no-deal Brexit is a nightmare scenario for business and investors, who say it would snarl borders, spook financial markets and sow chaos through supply chains.

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