In the dispute over a Brexit trade pact, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen sought a last-minute breakthrough on Wednesday evening. Both met for dinner in Brussels. Just hours earlier, Johnson had tightened the tone in London, complaining that the EU insisted on positions that “no prime minister of this country should accept”. But a good deal is still possible. </p><div>
<p>When Johnson’s arrival at the EU Commission, von der Leyen took photos with him in front of the cameras. Both took off their masks briefly before they disappeared behind a door after a few seconds. The EU side dampened expectations of the conversation.</p>
The disputed points have been the same for months: the EU’s demand for a fair playing field, fishing in UK waters and penalties for possible violations of the agreement. “The Prime Minister will make it clear tonight that he cannot accept anything that affects our ability to rule over our laws or our waters,” said a government spokeswoman in London.
The EU hoped, however, that the British side would move. “At the moment we still have major differences of opinion” on these points, affirmed EU negotiator Michel Barnier at an event of the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. “The next few days will be very important.” On both sides it was expected that Barnier and his British colleague David Frost would have to start negotiations again – if movement or a first breakthrough were achieved at the executive level.
Great Britain left the EU at the end of January. A contract should be in place by December 31, then the Brexit transition phase will expire. Without a contract, there will be tariffs, long border congestion and other trade hurdles at the turn of the year.
Quelle: What / Dpa </span>