Johnson Tells Merkel That Gaps Remain With EU as Time Runs Short – Bloomberg

Boris Johnson

Photographer: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

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Boris Johnson told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that significant gaps remain between Britain and the European Union in Brexit trade negotiations as the two leaders spoke Sunday before a crucial summit this week.

The British prime minister has set a deadline of Oct. 15 for a deal to be struck — or to be within reach — on future trading terms with the EU, and he’s stepping up his own involvement in the process in an effort to unblock negotiations. The call followed talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday.

In the call with Merkel “the Prime Minister emphasized that progress must be made in the coming days to bridge the significant gaps, in particular in the areas of fisheries and the level playing field,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

“The Prime Minister stressed that while achieving a deal in the coming days would be beneficial for both sides, the U.K. was also prepared to end the transition period on Australia-style terms if a deal was not possible,” the spokesman said.

France Warns No Brexit Deal Better Than Bad One on Fisheries

If no clear deal is in sight by Thursday’s summit of EU leaders, the U.K. has said it will be ready to call a halt to the negotiations on a free trade agreement and will instead focus efforts on preparing to exit the EU’s single market and customs union at the end of December without one.

If the two sides fail to reach an accord, millions of consumers and businesses will face additional costs and disruption as quotas and tariffs are reimposed for the first time in a generation. Such an outcome could also sour relations between the EU and its closest ally in foreign and security policy and have knock-on effects in areas ranging from aviation to finance and scientific research.

The conversation with Merkel could fuel speculation in the U.K. that Germany will intervene to break the deadlocked negotiations. Britain and the EU are still at loggerheads on state subsidies for businesses as well as fishing rights — with France pushing to keep the same access to U.K. waters that it enjoys today.

Read More:
France Warns No Brexit Deal Better Than Bad One on Fisheries

Merkel’s Help

Previous British efforts to enlist Merkel’s help to broker a compromise have foundered. Back in 2016, lawmaker David Davis said the first calling point for any U.K. negotiator after Brexit would be Berlin rather than Brussels. However, the German government has consistently rebuffed those overtures and fallen in behind Michel Barnier, who is leading the EU’s negotiating team.

Barnier and British counterpart David Frost will resume talks in Brussels on Monday before EU leaders meet later in the week. Despite Thursday’s deadline, officials in Brussels expect the British to remain at the negotiating table and for the talks to continue through the end of the month at least.

— With assistance by David Goodman

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Johnson Tells Merkel That Gaps Remain With EU as Time Runs Short – Bloomberg

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