Britain expects ‘very significant’ week for Brexit talks as clock ticks down

EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier passes a Police officer as he walks to a conference centre in Westminster in London, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 29 November 2020

Britain expects ‘very significant’ week for Brexit talks as clock ticks down

  • Despite missing several self-imposed deadlines, the negotiations have failed to bridge differences on competition policy and the distribution of fishing rights
  • Britain’s transitional EU exit agreement expires on Dec. 31, and Britain says it will not seek any extension

LONDON: Britain and the European Union are heading into a “very significant” week, British foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday, as talks over a trade deal enter their final days with serious differences yet to be resolved.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters in London that “works continue, even on Sunday” on his way to a negotiating session, as both sides look for a deal to prevent disruption to almost $1 trillion of trade at the end of December.
“This is a very significant week, the last real major week, subject to any further postponement... we’re down to really two basic issues,” Raab told the BBC.
Despite missing several self-imposed deadlines, the negotiations have failed to bridge differences on competition policy and the distribution of fishing rights.
But Britain’s transitional EU exit agreement — during which the bloc’s rules continue to apply — expires on Dec. 31, and Britain says it will not seek any extension. A deal would have to be ratified by both sides, leaving little time for new delay.
“The bottom line is... in the ordinary course of things we need to get a deal done over the next week or maybe another couple of days beyond that,” Raab told Times Radio in a separate interview.
Earlier, he had signalled some progress on the ‘level playing field’ provisions which look to ensure fair competition between Britain and the EU, and said fishing remained the most difficult issue to solve.
Despite accounting for 0.1% of the British economy, fishing rights have become a totemic issue for both sides. Britain has so far rejected EU proposals and remains adamant that as an independent nation it must have full control of its waters.
“The EU have just got to recognize the point of principle here,” Raab told Times Radio.


Saudi Arabia ‘leading the way’ in climate change fight

Updated 28 January 2021

Saudi Arabia ‘leading the way’ in climate change fight

  • Kingdom’s efforts will outpace West by 2030, energy minister tells FII

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia will be doing more than many Western countries to tackle climate change by the end of the decade, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Kingdom’s energy minister, told a panel of energy leaders at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum in Riyadh.

“Whatever we will do in the Kingdom will support emissions reduction, and we are doing it willingly because the economic benefits (from new energy technologies) are clear,” he said.

“We will enjoy being looked at as a reasonable and responsible international citizen because we will be doing more than most European countries by 2030 (to combat climate change),” he said.

Saudi Arabia had “set the pace” in tackling the global energy crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Prince Abdul Aziz said.

“When the going got tough, the tough got going,” the prince said, paying tribute to the efforts and optimism of the Kingdom’s youth during the pandemic recession.

“The energy minister has been energized by the energy of youth,” he added.

The panel discussed how the global energy sector can power the post-pandemic recovery, which Prince Abdul Aziz said will depend on the rollout of vaccines around the world.

“We have to maintain our hands on the situation until we’re more comfortable that people are using the vaccines and lockdowns are coming down,” he said.

Prince Abdul Aziz highlighted the Kingdom’s commitment to combat climate change via the framework of the Circular Carbon Economy, the strategy developed by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by G20 leaders.

The Paris Agreement on climate was an economic opportunity for Saudi Arabia, which has developed innovative techniques of producing and using clean energy, as well as a way of mitigating climate change.

“We are long believers in the Paris Agreement and are doing everything in our power to achieve it,” Prince Abdul Aziz added.

Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of French energy company Total, said that he was looking for low-cost energy resources in the Middle East.