BERLIN - It would not hurt Europe if Britain was allowed to remain in the European Union customs union and internal market beyond an agreed transitional arrangement, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said.
“What can be extended with no major problem is the January 1, 2020 date for the transition period. If a year is added to that it won’t hurt Europe, I hope not Britain as well,” Asselborn told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday.
German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had reported late on Tuesday that the European Commission had offered to extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020.
Still one-in-four chance of no-deal Brexit
Earlier in the week, it was reported that there is still a one-in-four chance Britain and the EU part ways in less than six months without reaching a deal, according to a Reuters poll.
The stubborn problem of resolving the United Kingdom’s post-Brexit land border with Ireland thwarted an effort over the weekend to clinch a deal before this week’s EU summit as negotiators admitted defeat after marathon talks.
Both sides want to finalise talks by mid-November to give parliaments in London and Brussels time to approve a deal before Britain otherwise crashes out in March, an outcome that would plunge businesses and millions of citizens into a chaotic and costly legal limbo.
British Prime Minister Theresa May faces stiff opposition at home and abroad to her plans and is struggling with deep divisions in her own party. Boris Johnson, her former foreign minister and figurehead of Britain’s Brexit campaign, said talks were “now entering the moment of crisis”.
May said on Monday she continues to believe a deal is achievable and real progress had been made in recent weeks on both the withdrawal agreement and future relationship. She also said progress had been made on Northern Ireland, the UK’s only land border with the EU.
When asked what probability they attached to the likelihood of a disorderly Brexit, where no divorce deal is reached economists questioned largely before the talks hit an impasse gave a median 25 percent, unchanged from a September poll. The highest forecast was 80 percent.