Brexit negotiations restart in person as clock ticks down

LONDON (Reuters) – Face-to-face negotiations between Britain and the European Union over a trade deal restarted on Saturday, in a last-ditch attempt to find agreement with just five weeks to go before their current relationship ends.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier arrived for talks in London on Saturday morning. He said on Friday night that he was “very happy” to be back in the city and would keep working with “patience and determination”.

Barnier and Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost are working to secure a deal before the UK’s transition period with the EU ends on Dec. 31. Both sides are calling for the other to compromise on the three main issues of contention – fishing, state aid and how to resolve any future disputes.

Britain left the bloc on Jan. 31 this year and a “no-deal” final exit would snarl borders, spook financial markets and disrupt delicate supply chains that stretch across Europe and beyond — just as the world grapples with the vast economic cost of the COVID-19 outbreak.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin on Friday evening. Johnson underlined his commitment to reaching a deal that respects the sovereignty of the UK, according to a UK statement.

On the major sticking point of fishing, some media reports on Friday suggested that Britain had rejected an EU proposal on the value of fish quota that European fleets catch in British waters that are due to be restored to the UK.

The Telegraph newspaper reported that the EU was set to concede on Brexit fishing rights.

Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Frances Kerry


Last push to Brexit: London and Brussels try to negotiate against the clock

First modification: 28/11/2020 – 03:27

This Saturday, November 28, face-to-face meetings between the European Union and the United Kingdom will resume to determine what trade relations will be like as of January 1, 2021, when the Brexit transition period expires.

Although the European Union has pledged to be “creative” in the final stages of Brexit trade negotiations, it has also said that the UK will only be a “valued partner” when the divorce of the now-ex-EU partners goes into full effect.

There is little time for the transition period to end and London and Brussels are trying to negotiate, with the clock against them, an agreement that will make their separation more amicable. But their differences seem irreconcilable.

The talks will resume this weekend in London in person, after the community team remained in quarantine for a contact with a positive case of coronavirus.

A divorce, but not a final separation

When, on January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union, many thought that that day ended the uncertainty that reigned in the region for six years that the Brexit process lasted. But it was just beginning.

The United Kingdom and the European Union are united by a common market of a trillion euros a year and eight months since the negotiations began in March have not been enough to determine what the relationship will be like from now on.

There are three points in dispute: that the same rules of the game exist in commercial matters, establish a conflict resolution mechanism and safeguard fishing rights. This last aspect is crucial for France, which for decades has benefited the most from fishing in British waters. The United Kingdom asks for absolute control of its waters.

Border between the two Irish has also been the center of the fight

In the Brexit deal, London and Brussels agreed that Northern Ireland would follow some of the European Union rules to avoid border controls with the Republic of Ireland, which belongs to the European Union.

France 24

France 24 © France 24

Since then, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed what is known as the Internal Market Act. London says it is needed to allow the four nations of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) to trade freely if there is no pact with Brussels.

But if adopted, the law would determine parts of the Brexit treaty, simplifying trade between Northern Ireland (island) and Britain in a way that Brussels believes will affect its own market.

This could put peace in Northern Ireland at risk. And the bloc says it will have no agreement with London if it maintains this project.

With Reuters and EFE


ANALYSIS – AstraZeneca Vaccine Data Questions Could Delay Approval

LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Days after grabbing the headlines with its COVID-19 “vaccine for the world”, AstraZeneca faces sensitive questions about its success rate that some experts say could hamper its chances of success. Quickly obtain regulatory approval from the United States and the European Union.

Photo illustration featuring vials of coronavirus vaccines next to the AstraZeneca logo. October 31, 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic

Several scientists have raised doubts about the robustness of the results showing that the vaccine was 90% effective in a subset of trial participants who, by initial error, received a half dose followed by a full dose.

“All we have is limited data disclosure,” said Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London.

“We have to wait for the full data and see how the regulators see the results,” he said, adding that regulators in the United States and Europe “could possibly have different points of view.”

British pharmacist AstraZeneca said Monday that its experimental vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, averaged 70% prevention of COVID-19 cases in third-phase trials conducted in the United Kingdom and Brazil.

While the success rate was 90% in the volunteer subgroup, the efficacy was 62% with the full administration applied twice, as was the case for the majority of participants.

That’s well above the 50% efficiency required by the US regulatory body. Europe’s drug regulator has said it will not set a minimum level of efficacy for potential vaccines.

More worrying, however, is that the trial’s most promising result of 90% comes from a subgroup analysis, a technique that many scientists say can lead to incorrect readings.

“Subgroup analyzes in randomized controlled trials are always fraught with difficulties,” said Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia in the UK.

He said, in particular, that such analyzes increase the risk of “type 1 errors”, that is, when an intervention is considered effective when in fact it is not.

This is in part because the number of participants in a subgroup is greatly reduced, making it more difficult to trust that a finding is not just due to fortuitous differences or similarities between participants.

“To be confident in the results,” Hunter said, any subgroup analysis “should be powerful enough,” with large numbers of volunteers taking the readings.

Only 2,741 volunteers were in the subgroup that read 90% efficacy, a fraction of the tens of thousands in the trials that resulted in efficacy data of more than 90% published earlier this month for Pfizer vaccines. -BioNTech and Modern.


AstraZeneca said the administration of the half dose was reviewed and approved by independent data safety monitors and the UK regulator, adding that the regulator publicly confirmed that there were “no concerns”.

“We are in discussions with regulators around the world to evaluate these findings and we look forward to the publication of the peer-reviewed results, which have now been presented to the journal,” added a spokesperson.

Oxford University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has not commented on the results of the AstraZeneca vaccine trials. The European Medicines Agency said on Thursday that it will “evaluate the data on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine in the coming weeks once it has been received from the company.”

However, the regulatory process has suffered, according to experts, who point to crucial gaps in the data AstraZeneca has released so far.

“The devil is in the details,” said Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London. “We’re trying to evaluate really complex trial designs based on little press releases.”

Beyond the headline efficacy ratings, AstraZeneca’s data release didn’t give scientists much to work with. It did not say how many infections occurred in the subgroup, for example, or in the group that received two full doses, or in the group that received placebo.

“Many questions remain unanswered,” said Morgane Bomsel, an expert at the French National Center for Scientific Research, adding: “We have the impression that they (AstraZeneca) are choosing the data selectively.”


Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific advisor to the United States Government’s vaccine program, Operation Warp Speed, also highlighted gaps.

He said that no one in the subgroup that received the initial half dose was older than 55 years, suggesting that the efficacy of the regimen in the crucial older age groups is not proven in these interim data.

The group that received a correct full dose followed by a full dose, he noted, included older people.

Such concerns, and the possible consequences for the speed of regulatory approval, led AstraZeneca shares to their lowest level since April on Thursday, falling 7% since the company released the data on Monday.

By contrast, Moderna is up 22% since publishing its vaccine trial data on November 16, and Pfizer and BioNTech are up 6% and 14%, respectively, since announcing their successful data on November 9. .

“There are a number of variables that we need to understand, and what has been the role of each of them in achieving the difference in efficacy,” Slaoui said Tuesday. “It is still possible that the difference (in efficacy) is a random difference,” he added.

“It is unlikely, but it is still possible.”

Information on Kate Kelland in London; additional information from Matthias Blamont in Paris, Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt and Francesco Guarascio in Brussels; edited by Josephine Mason and Pravin Char, translated by Michael Susin at the Gdansk newsroom


London believes a Brexit deal can be reached, but not at any price

File photo of the flags of Great Britain and the EU in Berlin. April 9, 2019. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke

LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union may close a trade deal on Brexit, but London will not sign a deal at any cost, British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday.

With only five weeks before the UK leaves the EU for good, both sides are trying to reach a trade agreement that will avoid a chaotic end to the negotiations.

“With a constructive attitude and the goodwill of all parties, we can achieve this,” Sunak told Sky.

Sunak also told LBC radio station that although it was preferable to reach an agreement, “we should not force a pact at any cost, that is not the right thing to do.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that despite progress in recent weeks, the EU is ready for the possibility of Britain finally leaving the bloc without an exit agreement.

An EU representative participating in the negotiations indicated that the agreement is possible but that, if it happens, it will not be before the weekend. An EU diplomat pointed out that the pact would be closed next week.

The European Commission – where Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is leading the talks with London on behalf of the entire bloc – is scheduled to update state representatives in Brussels on the issue on Friday at 0800 GMT. state of negotiations.

EU sources indicated that Barnier himself could travel to London to continue talking with his British counterpart, David Frost, if there is a possibility of moving forward.

Information from Guy Faulconbridge, Paul Sandle and Gabriela Baczynska; edited by Angus MacSwan; translation by Jorge Martínez


Makin: Johnson is better off not reaching an agreement with the EU

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is better off not having a post-Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union (EU), says one analyst.

With one month remaining until the end of the transition period of the Brexi, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission (EC), has indicated that an agreement with the United Kingdom is not yet possible.

The issue of access for European ships to British waters is the last obstacle to the trade pact. The British see the issue as a matter of national sovereignty. The EU, for its part, tries to avoid the loss of a fertile fishing area, which contributes billions of euros annually to the European fishing sector.

In reality, what is happening is that Boris Johnson is in trouble because he is being squeezed within his own party. Inefficiencies in his government, accusations of corruption, everything. You are in a very uncomfortable situation and it would be better if there was no agreement“Said the international affairs analyst Guillermo A. Makin in an interview with the chain this Wednesday HispanTV.

Source: HispanTV Noticias

fmk / anz / mjs


Micheál Martin: “A no-deal would have catastrophic consequences”

Brexit kept Europe in suspense for four years. In the next few weeks it is hoped that an agreement on future relations between the EU and Great Britain will finally be negotiated. But at what cost? And what happens if the talks fail? These are questions for the Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin, who is a guest on The Global Conversation.

Euronews reporter Shona Murray:
The Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin joined me from Dublin. Thank you for being my guest. The talks are in overtime. Do you know how long the EU will negotiate?

Micheál Martin, Irish Prime Minister:
Sometimes you can get a good result in extra time. I think that is important, given the importance of the issue and the importance of the possible consequences, which are negative consequences for the UK, Ireland and Europe economies. We must use any remaining time to come to an agreement. Because one thing is certain: a no-deal would have catastrophic consequences for everyone involved. After all, politicians have an obligation to the people they represent.

We have almost reached the point where it will no longer be possible for every member state to ratify the agreement and for Parliament to evaluate and approve it. What will happen if more time passes? Will there be a temporary solution? Could the agreement that was agreed before ratification in January be implemented? Where are we standing? What’s next?

Micheál Martin:
Our main focus, of course, is to ensure that the EU and the UK come to an agreement that is satisfactory in terms of future relations. Europe is able to develop adequate ratification procedures. I admit that time is pressing. But I believe that with a certain amount of creativity we can facilitate the ratification of an agreement, perhaps on a phased basis. But I think this is a solvable problem once we have an agreement.

Trustworthy Agreement

The remaining issues remain, of course, fisheries – there has been very little progress on this issue since March, a level playing field, state aid and scrutiny of the agreement. Can you tell us how things are and why no agreement has been reached yet?

Micheál Martin:
When it comes to a level playing field, both sides are afraid of ending up as the disadvantaged, for example with state aid. But I believe there is a compromise on this point that can lead to an arbitration mechanism. It would enable both sides to react if the agreement is undermined or violated. I think that underlying all of this is the need to build trust and restore trust between the European Union and the UK. The future relationship between Britain and Europe can work best on the basis of solid trust.

Violation of Irish Protocol

As for that confidence, how badly it has been damaged if you look at the past four years of negotiations – the stop-start nature of those negotiations, but most importantly the UK’s single market law which, if passed, will likely be Irish Will violate protocol?

Micheál Martin:
I do believe that UK internal market law has undermined confidence. Apart from that, the measured reaction of the European Union on this point was important in order to calm the situation down and to redirect the focus to the core of the negotiations, namely future trade relations. Because if a trade deal is agreed, it should repeal the offending clauses in the UK internal market bill and make their introduction obsolete. So I believe that given the enormous importance of what is at stake for so many people in relation to Brexit, the response was measured and appropriate.

You say that these clauses would be neutralized by a trade agreement. But the UK does not want to delete these clauses no matter what – which in turn is a condition of the EU. The UK strongly insists it will not repeal this legislative point.

Micheál Martin:
We have to take it step by step. I would also like to point out that the UK House of Lords has given a very strong judgment on the offensive clauses and on the single market bill. And the bill itself has come a very bumpy road so far, regardless, also in relation to Scotland, for example, and Wales and at the recent meeting of the British Irish Council, where it became very clear. But let’s put that aside, if the content of the agreement is such that we will have a viable trade relationship with Britain in the future, then I think a lot can follow from it. And the British side’s fears and claims would clearly not come true if they had a trade deal with Europe. So I think that these two points can then be dropped.

EU troublemakers Hungary and Poland

Let’s move on to other European issues: In July there was this unprecedented moment of approval for the EU budget and the € 750 billion rescue fund. And now two countries are against it, holding up the process, even though many Member States really need the money. What is your opinion on the advance by Hungary and Poland over the past week?

Micheál Martin:
I am very disappointed with this step. I think it is unjustified. This is a very important financial package. It was a historic breakthrough in terms of a shared debt burden and the cooperation of all EU countries in raising money in the markets. And it is very regrettable that implementation has been slowed down or withheld because two Member States had difficulties with the rule of law agreement reached between Parliament and the Council.

Specifically about these two countries: the fact that they make it more difficult for the EU member states to access this money, that they pursue illiberal democracies, that they diminish the rights of LGBT people and refugees. In Hungary the government has designated a university. Both consistently violate the rule of law and are only asked to follow basic principles of the rule of law. What is your specific position vis-à-vis these two countries?

Micheál Martin:
My position is that they should withdraw their objections to this package and facilitate the distribution of the money to the member states. I believe that the treaty is there to address the undermining of fundamental EU values. I am very concerned about the attitude of the member states, especially in Poland, for example recently on LGBT plus issues. And that is not acceptable to many people in Ireland, for example on this issue. However, broadly speaking, I would say that there are mechanisms in the Treaty by which any undermining of EU values ​​should be addressed. And I believe that given the severity of the crisis triggered by Covid-19, it is very important that these remaining obstacles are removed. And I think member states like Hungary and Poland should also take note of the views of other member states on these issues.


Turkey: Turkey on target

Since the signing of the Ankara Agreement in 1963, Turkey It was one of the closest partners of the then European Economic Community. With the signing of the agreement for a Customs Union in 1995 and its consideration as a suitable candidate for accession, it seemed that relations between the Eurasian country and the Union were at their best. Following the rise to power of President Tayyip Erdogan, relations between the Union and Turkey have been deteriorating, until reaching the current situation.

The government of Erdogan, aware of the geostrategic situation in Turkey, has tightened the rope on more than one occasion to exercise pressure on its European neighbors. Its privileged geographical position, bordering on Iran and Iraq and being the country that moves the Syrian war away from the borders of the Union, makes it a main actor to solve important geostrategic challenges. This role has come to interfere in the EU’s own policies, since most of the refugees from the Syrian war who have entered Europe have entered through Turkey and – on many occasions – with the consent of the authorities (causing one of the biggest humanitarian crises in decades).

Likewise, since gas was discovered in 2013 in the Eastern Mediterranean, conflicts over the delimitation of territorial waters between Greece, Cyprus and Turkey have been increasing. The Cypriot government, following Turkish explorations, has requested on more than one occasion the imposition of sanctions on Turkey. The drilling in the seabed would not only have caused seismic movements in parts of Greece and Cyprus, but also would have violated – according to these countries – their territorial sovereignty. Despite the lack of a common front within the European Union regarding sanctions against Turkey, The Union has already imposed sanctions against Turkish citizens related to the Government, as well as against companies involved in oil exploration and those who support them.

In addition to tightening the rope with the EU, Turkey also has diplomatic disagreements with the United States. Since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, the intersection of accusations and the clash between the two powers has increased, at first they were the accusations of the then vice president, Joe Biden, on the possible financing that the Turkish Government was providing to Al-Nusra (one of the local affiliates of Al-Qaeda), the support of the American troops to the Kurdish militias or the increasing rapprochement between the Turkish Government and Russia from Vladimir Putin. The constant friction has led the Erdogan government to also consider Turkey’s possible exit from NATO, which would mean the definitive break with the West.

At the height of this dispute, the statements of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, about Islam, caused a new clash between Tayyip Erdogan and the European Union. The Turkish president questioned the mental health of the French leader and called on other Muslim countries to boycott French products as a gesture of protest.

All these acts have been rejected by the European Union, which has been verified through the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell who has expressed, together with Parliament and the Commission, their rejection of both President Erdogan’s personal attacks and the boycott of French products, which is contrary to the tariff agreements in force between Turkey and the Union. In addition, the turbulent situation in Cyprus has also led to the imposition of economic sanctions by the Union as well as to rethink the commercial relationship that gives a status singular and preferential to Turkey.

As is always the case when international sanctions turn out to be the tool of choice, the main losers are foreign companies who have made investments and are already present in the market. As for Spanish companies, Turkey has become one of its preferred investment destinations having increased investments from 2012 to 2019 between 3 and 4% per year. In addition to Spanish investment, commercial relations are intense given that Turkey is one of the main destinations for Spanish exports of automobiles and other metallurgical resources, while Turkey -for its part- exports a large quantity of textile products to Spain.

The risks posed by diplomatic tension and instability impairs trade relations with Turkey. In particular, the legal certainty on which the foreign investments already established and that bet on the Ottoman country as a developing market and regional ‘hub’ rest (as it enjoys a privileged position as a gateway to the markets of its surroundings). Proof of your promotion and ambition from the local authorities of consolidate Istanbul as ub financial and commercial of the region is the Istanbul Financial Center project, which aims to turn Istanbul into a center for business by 2022.

However, the Turkish government does not seem to be concerned about the increase in tension and is sparing no effort in clashing head-on with its European allies and the United States. It would seem that Erdogan’s dream of asserting Turkish influence over the region passes – with the support of Russia – through feel comfortable on the target.

* José María Viñals Camallonga. Socio en Squire Patton Boggs.


The EU and the UK fail to finalize a trade agreement for Brexit

Boris Johnson doesn’t tone down. While playing the game and may speculate on an imminent trade deal with the EU after Brexit, the UK prime minister keeps his harsh speech in the British Parliament. Time is short and the blockade continues on several key issues, such as fishing.

“Our position on the fishing industry has not changed. We can only progress if the European Union accepts the reality that we must be able to control access to our waters. Right now it is very important to emphasize that”, says Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

With a view to a possible concession in the negotiations, the highest authority of the Community Executive points out that the EU seeks ‘guarantees’ for its fishing fleets.

“The crucial issues for the European side are, of course, issues related to a level playing field, governance and fisheries. And with the little time ahead of us, we will do everything in our power to reach an agreement. We are ready to be creative but we are not ready to question the integrity of the single market, “says Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

British and European Union negotiators have moved on the path to an agreement, and it appears that the outline of a possible final text has already been created. But both have little more than a month to close a commercial pact. The next few days will be decisive for the negotiations between both parties.


Negotiations between the EU and the UK on Brexit resume

(VOVWORLD) – The United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) resumed their negotiations on November 23 to reach an agreement governing relations between the two in the aftermath of the Anglo-Saxon country leaving the European bloc.

The talks continue after being postponed for a time due to a positive case of covid-19 in the European team. The incident forced the EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, and his British counterpart, David Frost, to end any face-to-face meeting.

There are less than 40 days left until December 31, the date in which the transition period will end to proceed with the de facto exit of the country from the EU, known internationally as Brexit. Thereafter, the UK will no longer apply European standards. Without a trade treaty to regulate their relations, London and Brussels run the risk of a new economic upheaval, adding to the existing crisis caused by the new coronavirus epidemic.

Negotiations remain difficult on three main sticking points: the guarantees required by London in terms of fair competition, Europeans’ access to British fish-rich waters and how to resolve disputes in the future agreement.


Sterling gains as risk sentiment improves

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2020

* Graphic: Trade-weighted sterling since Brexit vote

LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Demand for riskier assets on Tuesday kept sterling close to the two-month high it reached the day before, with investors also hoping that this week’s Brexit negotiations will result in a deal.

News on Monday that AstraZeneca’s vaccine for the coronavirus could be around 90% effective boosted sentiment. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that he hoped almost all Britons at high risk from COVID would be vaccinated against the disease by Easter.

England will introduce a new system on Dec. 15 allowing passengers arriving from high-risk countries to take a COVID-19 test after five days of quarantine and to be released from any further self-isolation if they test negative.

In addition, the one-month full lockdown in England is due to end on Dec. 2, and transport secretary Grant Shapps is set to scrap blanket travel quarantine restrictions by Christmas so people can travel to high-risk countries to visit relatives.

The November flash purchasing managers index came in better than expected on Monday, adding to the optimism, although the number remained below 50, which represents contraction.

Month-end investment flows have curtailed gains in sterling and the pound should be trading higher on these developments, said Marshall Gittler, head of investment research at BDSwiss Group.

“I think the pound could continue the gains next month, depending of course on how the Brexit talks go,” he said.

The British pound was last up 0.4% at $1.3373, close to $1.3396, its highest since Sept. 2, reached on Monday. If it were to rise above $1.3481, the surge would propel it to nearly a one-year high.

Versus the euro, the moves in the pound were more contained, with the British currency trading up 0.1% versus the common currency at 88.78 pence.

London and Brussels this week continue their negotiations to agree a deal on their future trading relationship, though time is now running very short as Britain’s post-Brexit transition period ends in fewer than six weeks.

Without an agreement Britain would revert to trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation rules, an outcome both sides believe would disrupt their economies.

Most investors believe a deal will be clinched, even if it is a bare-bones one that leaves some trade discussions for later. (Reporting by Olga Cotaga, editing by Larry King)


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