Since the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson took control of the Brexit trade talks, hopes for a breakthrough in negotiations begun to rise, with EU voices signalling the “final phase” of negotiations.

After more than nine months of negotiations on the shape of their post-Brexit relationship, the two sides were left with three major issues to resolve; fair competition for businesses, governance and state aid, and EU’s fishing access to British waters. The latter has been the thorniest part, with British fishermen advocating for a more fair share of the stocks European trawlers catch in UK’s waters. 

In recent weeks, progress was made by chief Brexit negotiators, which managed to “find a way forward” on issues related to governance, reviving hopes for a deal. Determined to “go to the extra mile”, von der Leyen and Johnson once again pushed the two sides to extend their negotiations by another week, in what they saw as a “possible” deal. 

Despite alleged progress, both sides are also preparing for a no-deal scenario, as pressure is mounting on their negotiation teams to clinch a deal before the deadline for the transition period lapses on December 31, after the UK officially divorced from the bloc in January. 

Thursday is the last date the EU and UK can reach a deal, if it is to come into effect on January 1, according to the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. Given that for any deal to be enacted, the parliament needs to give its nod, a deal could be “provisionally” accepted and then scrutinised by EU lawmakers in the new year. 

Talks between the two sides continued overnight on Wednesday, with the Commission’s spokesperson, Eric Mamer advising “Brexit-watchers” to grab some sleep, with hopes that work will start again early the next day. Sources told BBC that Johnson is expected to hold a press conference in Downing Street to announce the country has reached an agreement with the EU over post-Brexit trade and security within hours.

Earlier in the week, France and the UK got a glimpse of what could happen in case of a no-deal scenario, after Paris shut its borders with London, leaving thousands of trucks stranded in the port of Dover. Should the two sides fail to reach a deal, they could see border checks being introduced, tariffs striking their goods and negotiations being regulated by the terms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 



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