European Union diplomats warned today that time is fast running out for a Brexit deal, and that it may already be too late to ratify one, as negotiators in Brussels began a last-ditch attempt to avoid a tumultuous exit at the end of December.

With the UK calling on the EU to show “more realism” if there is to be progress in coming days, the two sides have yet to work out how nearly £900 million in trade per year will operate when the transition arrangement ends on December 31. There has so far been little movement on the most contentious areas of fair competition rules and fisheries.

Ireland, the EU nation most exposed to Brexit, said there were just days, or possibly weeks, left to find a way to unlock trade talks, while a senior EU official said there may no longer be time to put any trade deal agreed into force.

“It’s getting terribly late and may be too late already,” said the senior EU official, as talks between the bloc’s negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart, David Frost, resumed in Brussels.

A second EU source said: “They haven’t quite reached where they had hoped to be."

The UK says there has been some progress and that the two sides had common draft treaty texts, though significant elements were yet to be agreed.

A “no deal” finale to the Brexit crisis would shock financial markets and disrupt delicate supply chains that stretch across Europe and beyond - just as the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

Solar project powers major Perth employer

 

HeraldScotland:

The Perth office of insurance giatn Aviva, the base for half of its 2,000 employees in Scotland, will now be able to go "off grid" for five hours every day following a project with the power saving equivalent of powering more than 500 homes every year. 

READ MORE: Aviva has unveiled one of the largest renewable UK installations of its kind 

Skills shortage as Covid splits job market

HeraldScotland: Shaping a Digital World Conference, London, October 2017

The UK will face a growing skills shortage over the next decade if it does not start retraining and reskilling workers for the shift to a digital-based economy that has been sped up by the Covid-19 pandemic, a new report has said.

Consultants at McKinsey said their analysis showed 94 per cent of the workforce lacked skills they will require in 2030.

The pandemic had polarised the job market with some skills already in shortage, such as those needed in e-commerce and supply chain analytics, while low-skilled jobs lost during the crisis were unlikely to return. Some of the jobs most at risk include sales roles, retail assistants, receptionists and waiters, traditionally done by part-time staff and often by younger workers.

“Without concerted action by employers, two-thirds of the UK workforce could lack basic digital skills by 2030, while more than 10 million people could be under-skilled in leadership, communication, and decision-making,” the report said.

READ MORE: Lifting of lockdown provided little respite for the hardest-hit 

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