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LONDON — Brexit-watchers are used to “crunch” weeks coming to nothing.
Most weeks since the European Council summit in October — which the U.K. insisted was a deadline, before it wasn’t — have been tipped as the week a deal could be done. But still negotiations continue.
This week, however, could be different. There are numerous signs suggesting a deal could come together in the next few days, and a feeling among observers that things are finally getting serious.
POLITICO has rounded up some of the indications that this could be the week … plus a few that suggest this saga will roll on once again.
1. Both sides are pointing to this week
Politicians and officials on both sides say things are coming to a head. “I do think that this is a very significant week,” Dominic Raab told the BBC at the weekend. “The last real major week subject to any further postponement, in terms of the timing.”
Numerous EU figures have flagged this week as the one to watch, arguing the ratification process becomes complicated otherwise. Getting a deal approved by national and regional parliaments — which would be needed if the EU determines the final deal is a so-called “mixed agreement” — is no longer possible. But even ratification by the U.K. and European Parliaments plus sign-off by EU countries — the process if its scope is judged to only cover competences assigned to Brussels — is becoming increasingly difficult.
2. An actual deadline looms
There’s just one month to go until the Brexit transition period ends. The deadline for the end of talks can be put off but cannot end up in 2021 without the two sides falling off a cliff edge and tariffs kicking in.