European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks in Brussels, Belgium, Sunday during a press statement after a phone call meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Von der Leyen announced that EU-British trade talks. Photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EFE pool
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson departs at the end the European Council Brexit summit in Brussels, Belgium, on October 18. File photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EF
Dec. 13 (UPI) — Britain and the European Union have agreed to extend post-Brexit trade talks beyond a deadline set for Sunday after leaders conducted a call on “major unresolved topics.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a joint statement that it was “responsible at this point to go the extra mile.”
They have told their negotiators in Brussels, Belgium to “to see whether an agreement can even at this late stage be reached.”
Earlier last week, Johnson and von der Leyen set a deadline of Sunday to decide whether to halt negotiations or keep them going.
Britain left the European Union on Jan. 31 but leaders have been spending the past 11 months on post-Brexit matters.
They have until Dec. 31 to agree on a trade deal plus other things, such as fishing rights. That’s when they would move onto World Trade Organization rules.
Tariffs on goods being bought and sold between the two sides could be introduced with prices on certain products possibly going up. The EU is by far Britain’s biggest trading partner with 450 million consumers.
With no deal, Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility estimates 2% of its economic output, $53 billion, would be cut out and more than 300,000 people unemployed by the second half of next year.
Even with a deal, the OBR said in November there would be a loss of output of around 4% compared to Britain remaining in the European Union.
“Despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over, we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile,” von der Leyen said.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin told the BBC on Sunday no deal would be “so damaging to workers” for parties and represent “an appalling failure of statecraft.”
She characterized the talks as “constructive and useful.”
Johnson met with his cabinet.
Britain’s Labor party has called on the government to “deliver on the promise” of securing a deal to “allow us to move on as a country.”