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Brexit: EU unveils fresh emergency 'no deal' plans

December 10, 2020

Talks between the UK and the EU have failed to find an agreement. There are just three weeks to go until the Brexit transition phase is scheduled to end.

British PM Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen held talks on Wednesday.
British PM Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held Brexit talks on WednesdayImage: Aaron Chown/AFP

The European Commission on Thursday unveiled no deal Brexit plans in a bid to limit travel disruption after talks between British and EU leaders failed to break an impasse.

Officials said both sides should offer reciprocal access to their fishing waters for up to a year, potentially easing tension around one of the most emotive sticking points in the trade negotiations.

Britain told the EU earlier it should make significant concessions to break the deadlock by the end of the weekend for clarity about the finale to the five-year-old Brexit crisis.

Both sides gave themselves until Sunday to decide whether to continue talks or allow the UK to leave the current Brexit transition period without a free trade agreement.

"Negotiations are still ongoing but the end of the transition is near," said Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president. "There is no guarantee that if and when an agreement is found it can enter into force on time."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and von der Leyen failed to overcome persistent rifts in a "lively" exchange during a dinner of scallops and turbot on Wednesday.

Fishing, flights and freight

The EU wants Britain to remain tied to the bloc's labor, social and environmental standards in the future, as well as to state aid rules for corporate state subsidies.

They also fail to see eye to eye on securing fishing rights for European trawlers in British waters.

Fishermen at work in Newhaven, England
Fishing rights have been at the center of the Brexit talks for the past eight monthsImage: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Britain left the EU's political institutions in January but is still following all the rules — and enjoying all the benefits — of the EU single market and customs union during the transition period.

Businesses on both sides of the Channel will be hit with fresh red tape and extra tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit

The European Commission insists it wants to strike a trade agreement by the year-end deadline.

"While a 'no-deal' scenario will cause disruptions in many areas, some sectors would be disproportionately affected due to a lack of appropriate fall-back solutions," it said.

KLM aircraft
The EU wants to stop air travel disruption in the event of a no deal Brexit Image: Robin Utrecht/picture alliance

It wants to keep "certain air services" between Britain and the EU for up to six months. But London would need to offer the same level of access. Air safety measures would continue to be recognized, to avoid grounding aircraft. Basic connections by road freight and passengers would also continue for six months, provided that was a reciprocal accord.

jf/msh (AFP, Reuters)