Brexit deal ‘still possible’: German, Irish ministers


BERLIN, Dec 11, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Foreign ministers from Germany and Ireland said Friday they believe a Brexit deal is still possible, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that a no-deal scenario was very likely.

“We believe that an agreement is difficult but still possible,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said ahead of a meeting with Irish counterpart Simon Coveney in Berlin. “We will keep negotiating … as long as a crack of the window is open.”

Coveney added that he believed “it’s possible to get a deal on a future relationship and on a trade agreement.”

“We want an agreement, but of course one that is sensible,” Maas said, adding that the EU was also “prepared for the case that there is no agreement”.

Johnson earlier said he had not seen “a big offer, a big change” in the EU offer on fishing and fair competition rules, making a no-deal outcome “very, very likely”, two days ahead of a crunch decision on talks.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen had also earlier told the bloc’s leaders there were “low expectations” a post-Brexit trade deal could be struck with Britain, EU sources said.

Negotiators from the EU and Britain held talks in Brussels Friday to see if they could reach an accord by the weekend cut-off point set by von der Leyen and Johnson at a combative dinner meeting this week.

Britain left the EU on January 31 after five decades of integration, but a transition period during which it remains bound by the bloc’s rules ends on December 31.

Without a post-Brexit deal, Britain’s trade with its biggest market would in future operate on pared-down World Trade Organization rules, including tariffs and quotas.