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Brussels does not want a Brexit at any cost

A few days before the end of the transition period on the exit from the United Kingdom, the President of the European Commission reaffirmed on Wednesday her intention to find a trade agreement. On condition, she warns, that this does not affect “the integrity of the single market”.

A few days before the end of the transition period on the exit from the United Kingdom, the President of the European Commission reaffirmed on Wednesday her intention to find a trade agreement. On condition, she warns, that this does not affect “the integrity of the single market”.

(ASdN with AFP) – While negotiations have been sluggish for many months, Brussels intends to do everything to find an agreement with London. “We are ready to be creative,” said Ursula von der Leyen. But not at any cost. The President of the European Commission says that she is “not ready to question the integrity of the single market”, in particular respect for its environmental, social, fiscal or state aid standards.

The one who succeeded Luxembourgish Jean-Claude Juncker thus insisted on the need to put in place in the future agreement “remedies” in the event that the EU or the United Kingdom deviate over time from the agreed common standards. “Confidence is good, but the law is better,” she said.

The sensitive subject of fishing

Brussels is calling for a mechanism that allows immediate and unilateral countermeasures to be taken in the event of a sudden change in standards by one of the two parties, in order to avoid any unfair competition, which the United Kingdom refuses. The President recalled that these guarantees in terms of fair competition are one of the last three sticking points in the negotiations, with Europeans’ access to British waters and how to settle disputes in the future agreement.

On fishing – an explosive subject for some Member States including France – “no one questions the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over its own waters, but we ask for predictability and guarantees for the fishermen who have been sailing there for decades , even centuries, ”she said. “Our position on fisheries has not changed, we can only progress if the EU accepts the reality that we must be able to control access to our waters”, the British Prime Minister replied remotely. Boris Johnson, during an intervention in front of his Parliament.

On dispute settlement, Ursula von der Leyen calls for a “solid” system to “ensure that what has been agreed is actually agreed”, “especially in the light of recent experience”. The German is referring here to the British bill which partly returns to the Withdrawal Agreement, the treaty which governs the British departure on January 31st. This reversal – in particular on provisions intended to preserve peace on the island of Ireland – has seriously damaged the confidence of Brussels, which demands the withdrawal of the controversial articles.

D-40

The Vice-President of the Commission, Maros Sefcovic, responsible for settling the issue within the framework of a joint committee which he co-chairs with Briton Michael Gove, said he hoped for a meeting of this committee “in the coming days”. “The negotiations are difficult but I appreciate the constructive atmosphere,” he said. “These are decisive days for negotiations with the UK. But frankly, I cannot tell you today whether there will finally be an agreement, ”stressed von der Leyen.

There are less than 40 days until December 31, when the post-Brexit transition period will end and the UK will stop applying European standards. Without a trade treaty to govern their relationship, London and Brussels run the risk of a new economic shock, which would come on top of that caused by the epidemic of the new coronavirus. Ultimate constraint: the negotiators must theoretically leave enough time for their parliaments so that they can ratify an agreement before January 1.


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