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“New impetus” to post-Brexit negotiations

As the gap between their positions is wide, EU leaders and Briton Boris Johnson are calling for “quick agreement on the principles behind any agreement”. Because for the moment, “we are nowhere,” sums up a senior European official.

As the gap between their positions is wide, EU leaders and Briton Boris Johnson are calling for “quick agreement on the principles behind any agreement”. Because for the moment, “we are nowhere,” sums up a senior European official.

(AFP) – “A new impetus is needed” to find an agreement by the end of 2020 on the future relationship between London and the Union, recognized the two parties after an hour-long videoconference, in a joint press release. They call to find “quickly common ground on the principles underlying any agreement,” said the statement, while the gap is wide between the positions of each other. “Ready to put a tiger in the engine” but “fair conditions of competition are essential”, tweeted the President of the European Council (who represents the 27), Charles Michel.

In addition to Boris Johnson, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, EU negotiator Michel Barnier attended the meeting on the European side. His British counterpart David Frost, Minister of State Michael Gove and Ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow were also present. It was the first time since leaving the UK on January 31 that Boris Johnson had been personally involved in the discussions.

After four negotiating sessions since March, the situation is simple to summarize: the British and Europeans have camped on irreconcilable positions, preventing any progress. “We are nowhere,” summed up a senior European official, before the meeting. As for the possible extension of the transition period which ends on December 31, 2020 by a year or even two, the United Kingdom closed the subject on Friday by “formally” notifying the EU of its refusal to extend it. , as he had been saying over and over for months.

This virtual summit took place shortly after the two sides agreed to intensify the pace of the talks, which will take place at a brisk pace throughout the summer. The calendar is full for July, with meetings every week, sometimes in Brussels, sometimes in London, most in small committees, to move forward on the most conflicting files. Among them, guarantees of fair competition in fiscal, social or environmental matters (the “level playing field”, editor’s note), required by the EU, which fears that an unregulated economy will emerge at its doorstep. But also the settlement of disputes between the two parties or the explosive issue of fishing.

In the event of failure, the only rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), with their high customs duties and customs controls, would apply to trade relations between the former partners. A prospect that panics the European employers’ organization Business Europe, “extremely concerned” about the state of negotiations. A no deal would have potentially catastrophic effects for economies already hit hard by the covid-19 pandemic.

For Michel Barnier, the deadline for an agreement is October 31

Photo: AFP

For Michel Barnier, the deadline for an agreement is October 31, to allow time for member states and the United Kingdom to ratify a treaty on the new relationship between London and Brussels, which would come into force on January 1, 2021. The Secretary State Secretary for Commerce Greg Hands said on Monday on German public radio that London was only asking for a classic trade relationship like that between Canada and the EU, and rejected Brussels’ demands for compliance with the conditions of competition.


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