Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade
Officials remove the British flag at European Union Council in Brussels. Britain is urging businesses to step up preparations for a no-deal departure from EU. (Reuters/File)
Short Url
Updated 20 October 2020

Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade
  • Both sides call on each other to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors

BRUSSELS: Britain and the EU said on Monday the door was still open for a deal on their post-Brexit relationship, calling on each other to compromise to find a way to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors.

With just over two months before Britain ends a status quo transition arrangement with the EU, talks on a trade deal are deadlocked, with neither wanting to move first to offer concessions.

A no-deal finale to Britain’s five-year Brexit drama would disrupt the operations of manufacturers, retailers, farmers and nearly every other sector — just as the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic repeated on Monday that the EU still wanted a trade deal but not “at any cost” after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday there was no point in continuing talks.

“It has to be a fair agreement for both sides — we are not going to sign an agreement at any cost,” Sefcovic told reporters after meeting Michael Gove, Britain’s point man on the existing divorce agreement, in London.

“The EU is ready to work until the last minute for a good agreement for both parties,” Sefcovic said.

Britain, increasingly frustrated by the EU’s refusal to start text-based talks, called on the bloc to make the first move, with its housing minister saying that Brussels only had to make “some relatively small but important changes.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick called on the EU to “go that extra mile, to come closer to us on the points that remain for discussion.”

A spokesman for Johnson again ruled out prolonging any negotiation beyond the end of this year, when the transition period runs out, saying the EU “must be ready to discuss the detailed legal text of a treaty in all areas with a genuine wish to respect UK sovereignty and independence.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had been due in London for talks with British counterpart David Frost this week. Instead, they will now speak by telephone on Monday to discuss the structure of future talks, Barnier’s spokesman said.

Negotiations broke down on Thursday, when the EU demanded Britain give ground. Issues still to be resolved include fair competition rules, including state aid and fisheries. EU diplomats and officials cast Johnson’s move as a frantic bid to secure concessions before a last-minute deal was done, and European leaders have asked Barnier to continue talks.

British officials have repeatedly said any deal has to honor Britain’s new status as a sovereign country and not try to tie it to EU rules and regulations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said compromises on both sides would be needed. French President Emmanuel Macron said Britain needed a deal more than the 27-nation EU.

Britain is launching a campaign this week urging businesses to step up preparations for a no-deal departure. In a statement accompanying the launch, Gove says: “Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act.”

More than 70 British business groups representing over 7 million workers on Sunday urged politicians to get back to the negotiating table next week and strike a deal.


Saudi Arabia appointed chair of World Bank audit committee

Saudi Arabia appointed chair of World Bank audit committee
Updated 19 January 2021

Saudi Arabia appointed chair of World Bank audit committee

Saudi Arabia appointed chair of World Bank audit committee
  • Abdulmuhsen Al-Khalaf was selected as chair of the group’s audit committee

JEDDAH: Members of the World Bank Group (WBG) executive board have unanimously selected Saudi representative Abdulmuhsen Al-Khalaf as chair of the group’s audit committee.

Al-Khalaf is the executive director representing the Kingdom and has been in the position since November.

Prior to that, he served as alternate executive director between 2018 and 2020, and as adviser to the Saudi executive director between 2014 and 2018.

The audit committee members consist of executive directors representing the US, France, Japan, China, the UK, Brazil, and Poland. The committee is appointed to assist the executive board in overseeing the WBG’s finances, accounting, risk management, internal controls, and institutional integrity.

The committee maintains integrity of financial statements for WBG institutions and financial reporting related to trust funds. It also oversees appointments, qualifications, and independence of external auditors, and supervises internal and external auditors’ performance.

In addition, it ensures that financial, accounting, and administrative policies, as well as internal controls related to fraud and corruption are adequate and effective.

Prior to joining the WBG board, Al-Khalaf served as an economist at the Saudi Ministry of Finance, where he worked on several economic and financial policy issues and a variety of topics on the G20 agenda, representing the Kingdom in the G20 development working group.

Saudi Arabia became a member of the WBG in August 1957.