PARIS: The European Union will continue negotiating a future trade deal with Britain after Brexit, despite a move by London to renege a key part of the withdrawal agreement signed last year, the bloc’s internal markets commissioner said Friday.
“We’re in the final stretch of these negotiations, and for our part they will be carried through to the end,” Thierry Breton told BFM television.
“We are not going to carry out any ’empty chair’ diplomacy, that is quite clear,” he added.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week set an October 15 deadline for a post-Brexit trade agreement, which would come into effect from January.
But Johnson threw the talks into disarray after confirming he would seek new legislation that would override a deal with the EU regarding Northern Ireland, which calls for borderless trade with the rest of Ireland.
EU leaders have denounced the move, and Breton confirmed that “we are determined” to stick to the original agreement.
He said that if British companies want to benefit from easy access to the European market after leaving the bloc, “they will have to accept and respect all the rules.”
The standoff has sharply increased the risk of Britain crashing out without a deal, which would likely lead to reciprocal import tariffs and custom checks that could take a heavy toll on trade flows.