EU should CAVE in to UK over Brexit talks red lines – European business chiefs issue plea

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In a joint statement, German, Italian and French business organisations warned a no-deal Brexit would unleash “cascading consequences”, including tariffs, and delays and blockages at borders Germany’s BDI, Italy’s Confindustria and France’s Medef have called on EU leaders to “explore all possible options to reach a solution which ensures smooth trade conditions, while maintaining the conditions for fair competition between the Union and its British partner”. Their warning shot came ahead of a crunch summit of European leaders in Brussels, their first detailed Brexit discussion in over 12 months.

Boris Johnson is ready to walk away from Brexit talks unless today’s discussion send a clear signal a deal is still doable in the coming weeks.

The Prime Minister wants a “strong and credible” sign a breakthrough can be made after the bloc sets out its positions.

Both the UK and EU have been locked in intensive negotiations over the last two weeks in the hope of having a deal ready in time for the European Council meeting.

But British negotiators were left frustrated by Michel Barnier’s refusal to start work on a joint legal text.

The row over future fishing rights has threatened to derail chances of a deal, as influential EU coastal states cling on to the hope of securing status quo access to British waters.

Splits have emerged between France and Germany, with Angela Merkel wanting Emmanuel Macron to reconsider his hardline fishing demands, which threaten to prevent a deal.

The French president wants to maintain the same level of access to the UK’s coastal waters after the end of the transition period.

A German government source said: “Everybody knows that if there is no deal then European quota in British waters is zero – now it’s 100.”

Mr Johnson held talks with EU presidents Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel last night ahead of the summit.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The leaders discussed the latest state of play of the negotiations on our future relationship with the EU, ahead of the October European Council.

“The Prime Minister noted the desirability of a deal, but expressed his disappointment that more progress had not been made over the past two weeks. 

“The Prime Minister said that he looked forward to hearing the outcome of the European Council and would reflect before setting out the UK’s next steps.”

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Mrs von der Leyen insisted the bloc would continue to work on a deal, stressing the importance of an agreement on fisheries, the so-called level playing field and governance.

She said: “The EU is working on a deal, but not at any price.”

And Mr Michel added: “On the eve of the European Council we pressed again for progress to be made at the negotiation table.”

But European capitals cast doubt on a deal being broken by leaders at today’s summit.

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Diplomats from across the Continent said there would be intense discussions but the details will be left to Mr Barnier.

Brussels sources said France and about a dozen other member states were pushing for a tough line in the negotiations at predatory meetings ahead of the gathering.

They are expected to insist that Britain compromises on future state subsidies before the bloc agrees to further intensify the talks.

One senior EU diplomat said: “We want to show we are willing and ready once the UK moves to work really, really hard to conclude a deal.”

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