Britain stands to lose more than EU from lack of trade deal by end-2020 - EU

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech during a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain stands to lose more than the European Union if the two fail to strike a trade deal by the end of next year, the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

Britain set a hard deadline of December 2020 on Tuesday to reach a new trade deal with the European Union, betting that the prospect of another Brexit cliff-edge would force Brussels to move quickly to seal an accord.

“The timetable ahead of us is extremely challenging,” Von der Leyen said. “It ends by December 2020. It leaves us very little time. In case we cannot conclude an agreement by the end of 2020 we will face again a cliff-edge situation,” she said.

“This would clearly harm our interests, but it would impact the UK more than us as the European Union will continue benefiting from its single market, its customs union and the 70 international agreements we have signed with our partners,” she said.

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Philip Blenkinsop