Beyond the imposition of customs controls and other barriers, a trade agreement would avoid the imposition of tariffs and tariffs that could cost both parties hundreds of thousands of jobs.
But the risky diplomatic policy continued despite the urgency of a deal.
“We must not put ourselves Europeans under time pressure to finish at this time or on that day. Otherwise, we would put ourselves in a position to make bad concessions,” French Europe Minister Clement Beaune told the BFM network.
EU officials have already said they will negotiate on January 1 if necessary.
Rumors of a pre-Christmas Brexit trade deal had spiked in recent days due to progress on all outstanding issues, beyond fishing. Some EU nations insisted, however, that, after close scrutiny, Britain’s latest proposals on quotas for EU vessels in UK waters were far less conciliatory than they first appeared.
And Beaune also raised the rules of fair competition as a sticking point, even if some other EU officials said they were close to being dealt with.
The EU has long feared that Britain would undermine the bloc’s social, environmental and state aid rules in order to gain an unfair advantage with its exports to the EU. Britain has said that having to comply with EU rules would undermine its sovereignty.
“Well, if the British come into our market, well, they can abide by our rules. It’s elementary economic justice,” Beaune said. “We will not give in due to time pressure.”
In London, UK Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick said “we will have to solve those final problems, and there is a long way to go.” However, he still felt “optimistic, I hope we can reach an agreement”.
If both parties fail to meet the January 1 deadline, it is unclear under what conditions the trade would take place before a deal is finally approved.
On Monday, Johnson insisted that it didn’t really matter whether a deal was reached or not, and said Britain “will prosper mightily” even if the talks collapse overnight.
However, Beaune said Wednesday morning that a no-deal exit “would be catastrophic for the UK.”
The border is already recovering from new restrictions on travelers from Britain to France and other EU countries due to a new variant of the coronavirus spreading across London and southern England. A UK minister said on Wednesday some 4,000 trucks were stuck in traffic jams near Dover, waiting for their drivers to be tested for viruses so they could enter the Eurotunnel to France.
While both sides would suffer financially from failing to reach a trade deal, most economists believe Britain would be hit the hardest, at least in the short term, as it relies relatively more on trade with the EU than the other way around.
– Reported with Associated Press