EU makes preparations to put in place any UK trade deal from Jan. 1 – sources

FILE PHOTO: EU flag are placed on broken glass and British flag in this illustration picture taken
FILE PHOTO: EU flag are placed on broken glass and British flag in this illustration picture taken January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

December 23, 2020

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union member states have started to prepare procedures to put in place a new trade deal with Britain from Jan. 1, if one is agreed, three diplomatic sources in the bloc told Reuters on Wednesday.

During a meeting with the EU’s executive European Commission – which is negotiating with Britain on behalf of all the 27 member states in the bloc – national diplomats in Brussels were told to be ready for a meeting on Thursday, should a deal come.

“It seems the deal is pretty much there. It’s a matter of announcing it today or tomorrow,” said one EU diplomat, saying the European Council, which represents the member states in Brussels, had started preparations to enable so-called “provisional application”, a fast-track implementation of the agreement.

While both sides have said for days a deal is getting closer, the UK has been considerably more downbeat on the chances of getting there – let alone before Christmas – than the EU side.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Kevin Liffey)