There is a “50-50” chance of the EU striking a trade deal with the United Kingdom, according to Thierry Breton, the EU internal market commissioner, “as there has always been.”
The EU is “extremely clear on the conditions of accessibility of our European market,” said Breton on Friday in an interview on France 2, adding, “We are an open Continent, but we have rules. And whoever wants to access the internal market has to respect these rules.”
Negotiations have continued intensively between Brussels and London this week. On Wednesday, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his U.K. counterpart David Frost both underlined “divergences” between the two sides on a number of issues. Barnier and Frost are set to meet again on Sunday, while talks between deputy officials continue on Friday.
The Brexit transition period, agreed as part of the U.K.’s exit deal that it struck with the bloc last year, is due to end on December 31. Without a trade deal, the two would trade on WTO terms.
For Breton, the U.K. has more to lose than the EU from a no-deal exit. “It’s evident,” he said, “and I think the British prime minister knows it.”