European Union has 'abandoned' trade pact with United Kingdom, says Johnson

EU's new demands over basic Brexit trade deal angers UK

Lord Frost, the UK's chief negotiator, told his counterpart, Michel Barnier, to call off a planned trip to London for talks this week, after European Union leaders issued a joint summit statement calling on the United Kingdom to offer compromises on several areas, including fishing rights in United Kingdom waters.

But many economists say it would be devastating for British businesses, which are already struggling with huge economic hits from the coronavirus pandemic.

The European leaders have tried to keep Brexit off the agenda at their recent summits but, in a sign that the topic was heating up, were ordered to leave their phones out of the room during the discussion.

FRANCE 24's Dave Keating tells us more.

On Friday evening, an European Union spokesman tweeted that chief negotiator Michel Barnier held video talks with his British counterpart David Frost and that negotiators from both sides will be in touch on Monday for further discussions on the "structure" of talks.

"As planned, our negotiation team will go to London next week to intensify these negotiations", she said.

"So with high hearts and complete confidence we will prepare to embrace the alternative".

Asked if he was walking away from talks, Johnson said: "If there's a fundamental change of approach, of course we always willing to listen, but it didn't seem particularly encouraging from the summit in Brussels".

Barley, who sat in the Bundestag from 2013 to 2019, does not believe the trade talks will be extended past the EU's mid-November deadline.

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However, Johnson's dramatic announcement on Friday notes that the likely outcome is now a relationship similar to EU-Australia ties, based on global trading norms. So it's all just rhetoric.

Their calls for urgency were balanced however by an invitation that Britain keep talking next week in London and in Brussels the week after that.

In an unusually testy tweet, the UK's Frost said he was "disappointed" by the summit conclusions, underlining that they "no longer committed to working "intensively" to reach a future partnership" as had been earlier promised.

"After four years of negotiations and so many hurdles crossed, this is no time to give up", Ms Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, the nation's biggest business lobby, said in a statement. It was down 0.2% versus the euro. The EU effectively ended the trade talks yesterday.

The two sides have been haggling over a deal that would govern trade in everything from vehicle parts and salmon to Camembert and medicines when that informal membership ends.

As a result, come January 1, 2021, the trading relationship between Britain and the continent will revert to terms of the World Trade Organization - meaning an array of tariffs and quotas.

"We are ready to continue to talk, in good faith, to advance, but I will also be very clear: we will not sacrifice any position, any interest and we will not sacrifice our fishermen", French President Emmanuel Macron said.

Johnson had repeatedly asserted that his preference is for a deal but that Britain could make a success of a no-deal scenario, which would throw $900 billion in annual bilateral trade into uncertainty and could snarl the border, turning the southeastern county of Kent into a vast truck park.

Some EU figures fear Boris Johnson still doesn't know if he actually wants a deal and is trying to buy time while be grapples with the Covid crisis.

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