Several institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), previously urged London to extend the transition period before for the “economic Brexit” due to the health crisis that has affected both Britain and the bloc, but the conservative government of Boris Johnson refused to do so.
The EU’s lead negotiator, Michel Barnier, confirmed that London has refused to prolong the transitional period, adding that the goals of the second round of talks were only partially met. According to him, London is not providing enough guarantees for trade with the European Union.
The bloc hasn’t changed its priorities on Brexit due to the pandemic, French European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said on Friday, stressing that a no-deal scenario amid the ongoing health crisis would be damaging, but the UK would suffer the most.
Both Britain and France are currently among the top-five most affected countries in Europe, as the UK has confirmed 138,078 cases and 18,738 fatalities from COVID-19, while France has 158,183 infected and 21,856 deceased.
The coronavirus pandemic hit Europe, with Italy and Spain being the most affected nations. According to Johns Hopkins University, Italy occupies second place in terms of fatalities (25,549 deaths) in the world, after the US, while Spain is in second when it comes to the overall number of infected (213,000 cases).
Despite the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the UK cabinet has firmly ruled out any extension to the transition period, stating that it will end as scheduled on 31 December. Before the end of the year, London and Brussels are planning to strike various agreements, including a trade deal, that will regulate relations between the UK and the bloc.