The Brexit talks will need to have a breakthrough this week, say Britain and Eire
© Reuters. Weekly cabinet meeting on Downing Street, London
By William Schomberg
LONDON (Reuters) – This week there must be a breakthrough in talks for a post-Brexit trade deal, the British and Irish ministers said on the Sunday before December 31st, the end of the UK's transition period to leave the European Union.
Without a deal, around $ 1 trillion worth of trade is at risk of disrupting import duties and stricter regulations, just as the UK and EU are struggling to contain the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This has to be a week of things moving if we break through some of these difficult problems and find a solution and at least have headlines, if you like, of an agreement," UK Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News on Sunday .
"Otherwise it will be quite difficult and we will run out of time to implement it," added Eustice.
Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney said time was running out for a deal.
"If you want to use sports language, this is a moving week. We have to make great strides this week. Hopefully we have to solve the big problems in principle this week," Coveney told Sky.
"It's very difficult, but also very feasible."
Negotiations have already missed several deadlines and remain stuck on issues such as catch quotas, state aid rules and how to resolve future disputes.
Coveney said London must also step back from its plan to legislate on trade between Britain-ruled Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
London has recognized the law could violate international law by overriding the divorce treaty it previously agreed to with the bloc.
"There is no way the EU will agree to ratify a new agreement if the British government breaks the existing agreement, which is less than 12 months old, in violation of international law," said Coveney.
Eustice said the UK government had plans to move forward with legislation and restore parts of the law that was struck by the House of Lords last week.
US President-elect Joe Biden said that Brexit should not undermine the US-brokered "Good Friday" peace agreement for Northern Ireland in 1998. These comments were seen as a warning to London about the bill.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Sunday that Biden's election victory would likely lead Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sign a trade deal with the EU that would avoid the need for legislation.
"I think the arrival of Joe Biden made all the difference," Brown told BBC television.
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