"There is a Brexit deal to be done" - Coveney

Marco Green
December 1, 2020

"But a deal is in everyone's interest", Chancellor Merkel said.

The thorny issues of fishing rights and the "level playing field" aimed at preventing unfair competition on standards and state subsidies remain the major obstacles to an agreement.

"I've been saying for the last number of weeks that this is the key week, and we're staying the same again this week", Coveney told Morning Ireland.

The United Kingdom leaves the EU's orbit on December 31, when a transition period of informal membership ends following its formal departure last January, and the sides are trying to secure a deal to govern almost $1 trillion in annual trade.

"We, Britain and the member states of the European Union, are countries that are based on the same values, and it would not be a good example for the world if we didn't in the end manage to craft an agreement".

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he has a lot of faith in Michel Barnier to negotiate a "balanced deal" but with just a month to go until the end of the transition period, he warned that time was running out.

"I don't think we could vote against the deal because like I said the British government want us to get a deal, it's in the national interest", the MP told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour programme.

This comes as talks over a trade deal enter their final days with serious differences yet to be resolved.

Regardless of whether there is a post-Brexit trade deal, French authorities will impose full European Union customs and controlled goods checks on all goods arriving from Britain from January 1. But both sides are struggling to agree a replacement free trade deal which is also vital to Irish exports to Britain.

Shadow global development secretary Preet Kaur Gill said yesterday it would hard for Labour to vote against a Brexit pact.

In a statement, the government said a new Border Operations Centre would be set up to gather information on the flow of goods and people, adding: "Changes to the way we trade with Europe will likely mean that there is short-term disruption at the border".

Asked whether there was reason for optimism, Mr Barnier told reporters: "There are reasons for determination".

The BBC's Brussels correspondent Nick Beake said the European Union was still opposed to annual negotiations but had accepted that access to United Kingdom waters for European Union boats could not remain the same as it is now.

"But we have been clear that we won't change our negotiating position and we have been clear what that position is".

The two sides remain at loggerheads over fisheries in particular, and Johnson's spokesman said there had been some progress recently but "there still remains divergence on issues [such as] fisheries and the level playing field".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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