The European Union and Britain said Sunday they would discard their self-imposed deadline to complete post-Brexit trade negotiations, declaring they would “go the extra mile” to clinch an agreement to avert costly trade chaos at the start of 2021.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had set Sunday as the deadline for reaching an accord. But they agreed there was too much at stake in reaching a deal to end talks.
“Despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations and despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over, we both think it is responsible at this point in time to go the extra mile,” von der Leyen said.
Negotiations continued at the EU headquarters in Brussels.
At stake is Britain’s quest for zero-tariff and zero-quota access to the EU’s single market. Stumbling blocks include fishing rights and penalties Britain would face for violating the EU’s fair competition rules.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said early Sunday on Sky News TV, “We want to be treated like any other independent self-respecting democracy. If the EU can accept that at a political level, then there’s every reason to be confident but there is still, I think, a long way to go.”
A British source at the talks said Johnson “will leave no stone unturned in this process, but he is absolutely clear: any agreement must be fair and respect the fundamental position that the UK will be a sovereign nation in three weeks’ time.”
A no-deal Brexit would be economically disruptive in Britain, across Europe and beyond.