BRUSSELS (AP) — Despite the devastating economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Britain is making scant effort to negotiate a far-reaching free trade deal in the wake of Brexit that would stave off a costly final separation at the end of the year, the European Union said Friday.
EU negotiatior Michel Barnier said his British counterparts keep insisting on unrealistic deadlines and demands that could only lead to a chaotic trade rupture which would mount economic losses on both sides on top of those already expected from the coronavirus crisis.
“I am worried,” Barnier said after what he described as another week of “disappointing” video negotiations between both sides. Barnier said Britain had made it clear it would not seek an extension to the transition period beyond Dec. 31, even though it could get one of up to two years.
Britain officially left the 27-nation bloc on Jan. 31, but remains within the EU’s economic orbit, including its single market for trade in goods and services, until the end of the year. The two sides have until then to work out a new relationship covering trade, security and a host of other issues.
Both sides have been hit hard by the coronavirus, with Barnier and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson both having been infected.
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