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Brexit drags on, so the negotiators are bringing out the big guns.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, met Saturday after their brokers failed to restart trade talks before a transition period closes in less than a month, Reuters reported.
The Dec. 31 deadline is the final step of Britain’s yearlong exit from the European Union, ending regulations for almost $1 trillion in annual trade between the two sides.
British and EU negotiators called in Johnson and von der Leyen after a week of discussions that still left them far apart on fisheries, fair competition guarantees and plans to settle future disagreements.
“We keep calm, as always, and if there is still a way, we will see,” EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in London, as he made his way to Brussels.
Of the three sticking points, the biggest is France’s right to fish in British waters, which French President Emmanuel Macron is standing firm on. But other EU member states are equally concerned about Britain’s tough position on competition, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified diplomat.
If a deal isn’t reached, the UK and the EU would trade under the terms of World Trade Organization, which has higher tariffs.