Barnier Says the Ball Is Now in Johnson’s Court: Brexit Update

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator, told diplomats from the bloc’s 27 member states that it’s up to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to make the next move as negotiators seek to break the deadlock over Brexit.

As the U.K. and European Union strive to finalize a deal before Monday evening, a compromise on the longstanding stumbling block of access to British fishing waters is starting to emerge, two people with knowledge of the discussion on both sides said. That would leave the level competitive playing field as the main remaining and stubborn issue.

The U.K. will leave the European single market and customs union on Dec. 31 — with or without an agreement. Both the European and U.K. parliaments still need to ratify any accord, so time is running short for a deal to be implemented in time.

Read more: Brexit Talks Resume as Officials Seek to Hammer Out Solution

Key Developments:

  • The pound dropped in early Asian trading as investors questioned how close Britain and the EU are to sealing a deal.
  • The European Parliament’s U.K. coordination committee will meet with Barnier at 9 a.m.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will talk later this evening.

From Bloomberg Opinion: No-Deal Brexit Would Inflict Pain on Europe, Too: Lionel Laurent

Barnier Pessimistic About Deal (8:18 a.m.)

Barnier was rather pessimistic about the prospects of a deal, said a senior EU diplomat present at this morning’s briefing.

The EU’s chief negotiator told envoys that divergences over the three well-known issues remain and that the ball is in Boris Johnson’s court to move, according to the diplomat.

Disagreements over the playing field for businesses, fisheries, and the governance of any agreement have dogged the talks since they started in March.

Barnier Tells Ambassadors Talks Are Continuing (8:00 a.m.)

The EU’s chief negotiator told diplomats that there is still no deal with the U.K. and that talks will go on, according to an official with knowledge of the conversation.

Barnier Arrives to Brief Diplomats (7:30 a.m.)

Michel Barnier arrived at the EU council to brief ambassadors after talks finished at midnight in Brussels on Sunday. Other than a brief “Good morning,” he didn’t speak to reporters outside.

Talks Are on a “Knife Edge” (Earlier)

With the negotiations moving only slowly, one EU official warned that expectations that an agreement will be reached within 24 hours are low. The EU has said that a summit of its 27 leaders that begins on Thursday now marks the effective deadline for a Brexit deal.

“Things are on a knife edge and it’s serious. My gut instinct is it’s 50-50,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said in an interview with broadcaster RTE on Sunday. “I don’t think one can be overly optimistic about a resolution emerging.”

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