A post-Brexit trade deal needs to be struck within days, the Irish Government has said.
A “cliff-edge” failure of talks, just hours before the transition period runs out, cannot be allowed, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney warned.
He said it was a good sign that there was a shift in the joint language used by leaders in Brussels and London after deciding to extend negotiations.
He noted there was largely agreement on maintaining existing standards to ensure no unfair competition on issues like workers’ rights, consumer protection and climate change, adding: “The real challenge is how do we deal with future change?”
Time to hold our nerve and allow the negotiators to inch progress forward – even at this late stage. Joint statement on #Brexit negotiations is a good signal. A deal clearly very difficult, but possible. https://t.co/TfN0p9nQ9G
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) December 13, 2020
He said that if the EU introduced new regulations around something like climate change and the UK did not respond in kind, it needed to ensure British companies selling into Europe’s single market were not deriving competitive advantage.
“It really needs to be done over the next coming days,” he said.
“From the Irish perspective we want a deal.”
He told RTE Radio’s This Week it would be a “huge political failing” if there was no agreement.
“This is a matter of days now.
“If this is to fail we cannot allow failure to happen with 24 hours to go before a cliff-edge.
“Both sides do want a deal and they want a deal now to provide certainty for so many people who have been waiting for it for years,” he added.
He noted that Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen had described the discussions as “constructive and useful”, in a shift from their previous terms of “lively and interesting”.
He said their joint statement was a sign they were working to try to find a way forward together.
“The only way we get a deal here that both sides can live with is if both understand the real and genuine problems of the other side and try to resolve them through a legal text.”