The big breakthrough during dinner in Brussels failed to materialize. Despite enormous time pressure, London and Brussels want to fight for a Brexit trade pact for four days. But the differences are still big.
London (AP) – In the fight for a Brexit trade pact, the EU and Great Britain have set a deadline. A decision must be taken by Sunday evening, Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, tweeted after a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Brussels.
The hoped-for breakthrough at the personal summit meeting did not materialize: “We gained a clear understanding of each other’s position. They stay far apart, ”wrote von der Leyen. British government officials said it was still unclear whether an agreement would be reached. Prime Minister Johnson wants to leave no stone unturned.
The negotiators and their teams must therefore return to the negotiating table one last time to resolve the remaining points of contention. The three conflict issues – fisheries, fair competition and whether the agreements are enforceable – have been the same for months. Without a contract, tariffs and other trade barriers threaten from 1 January. It is feared that this could lead to long traffic jams on the English side of the Channel and empty shelves in supermarkets. The economy is expecting serious upheavals.
Johnson and von der Leyen met in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss the remaining points of contention in the trade deal negotiations for the time after the end of the Brexit transition phase. It was the third conversation between the two since EU negotiator Michel Barnier and his British colleague David Frost announced last Friday that their negotiating mandate had come to a dead end.
Time is running out. Next Thursday and Friday, the EU heads of state or government will meet for their final summit of the year. There must be a contract by December 31, because then the Brexit transition phase will expire. Should an agreement be reached, it must be ratified in the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers of the EU. As things stand, at least one vote on the trade pact is also expected in the UK Parliament.
This week, after all, there was progress: the British government and the European Commission agreed on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol from the Brexit agreement. This largely removes the greatest concern with a no deal. The aim of the protocol is to ensure that there is no hard border between the British Northern Ireland and the EU Member State Republic of Ireland. In this case, the conflict was expected to flare up in the former civil war zone.
London had agreed to delete or amend controversial passages in a bill that had caused resentment in Brussels. By the will of London, the Single Market Act was supposed to quash the provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol, thereby violating international law.