UK, EU leaders push Brexit trade talks beyond yesterday's deadline
BRUSSELS/LONDON: London and Brussels agreed to "go the extra mile" in the coming days to reach an elusive trade agreement despite missing their latest deadline to avert a turbulent "no deal" exit for Britain from the European Union's orbit at the end of the month.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen had given negotiators until yesterday to find a way to resolve an impasse on arrangements that would guarantee Britain zero-tariff and zero-quota access to the EU's single market.
But they mandated negotiators continue after they failed to meet the deadline.
"Despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over, we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile," Mr Johnson and Dr von der Leyen said in a joint statement.
Britain quit the EU in January but remains an informal member until Dec 31 - the end of a transition period during which it has remained in the EU single market and customs union.
Mr Johnson said the two sides would try to be as creative as possible but Britain could not compromise on key "red lines".
"I'm afraid we're still very far apart on some key things, but where there is life, there's hope," he told reporters, but added trade might have to revert to the non-concessionary terms set by the World Trade Organisation.
A final Brexit without a trade deal would damage the economies of Europe, send shockwaves through financial markets, snarl borders and sow chaos through the delicate supply chains across Europe and beyond. - REUTERS