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8 May, 2020 15:56

Brexit trade talks timeline ‘virtually impossible’ – Dublin

Brexit trade talks timeline ‘virtually impossible’ – Dublin

The coronavirus pandemic has made a timeline for a British-EU trade deal “virtually impossible,” Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said on Friday. “Given the complexity of what we’re trying to deal with here, and the added complications…as a result of Covid-19, it surely makes sense for us to seek a bit more time,” Coveney told an online conference.

“I wouldn’t be raising expectations to the British government agreeing to seek more time… Covid-19 has made what is already a very, very difficult timeline [by which] to get agreement virtually impossible,” the minister said.

The EU says only a relatively modest free-trade agreement is possible before the end of the year, but it attaches conditions to it – including rigid guarantees of fair competition – that have been rejected by Britain, Reuters said. Coveney added that the two rounds of talks to date have “really gotten nowhere” because of the differences.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ruled out seeking an extension to the transition period beyond December 31. Until then, Britain remains part of the EU’s single market and customs union.