By Eurasia Business News – December 8, 2020
The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels “in the coming days” for a last-chance mission to meet with the Head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in order to unblock the post-Brexit negotiations, still at an impasse.
Picture : View on Big Ben from the Trafalgar Square, London. Photo Credit : Eurasia Business News.
The European Commission said on Tuesday that negotiations on future relations between the Union and Britain could continue beyond December 31, which marks the end of the transition period for Brexit.
“Negotiations between Britain and the European Union over their future relationship are due to be concluded by the end of the year, which will mark the end of the transition period before a fully effective Brexit”, answered on Tuesday a spokesperson for the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Boris Johnson in Brussels
The British Prime Minister has agreed to meet the Chairman of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen in the coming days in Brussels to see if a “political outcome” was possible in order to unlock the negotiations, added the spokesperson. This official trip is a last chance mission, the transition period ending on December 31.
The day of the British Prime Minister’s arrival has not yet been set, but he will not participate, in any case, at the European summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday in the Belgian capital.
“We have asked our Chief Negotiators and their teams to prepare an overview of the remaining differences to be discussed in a physical meeting in Brussels in the coming days” said Boris Johnson on Twitter on December 7.
Ursula von der Leyen announced on her Twitter page :
“With Boris Johnson we took stock of the negotiations. The conditions for an agreement are not there due to remaining differences on critical issues.
We asked our Chief Negotiators to prepare an overview of the remaining differences to be discussed in person in the coming days.”
At the end of a long-awaited telephone meeting on Monday, Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen could only note, once again, “that the conditions” to finalize an agreement were “not met“.
Three sensitive topics
The two leaders stressed that discussions were still stumbling on the same three topics: European access to British waters, how to settle disputes in the future agreement and the guarantees demanded in London by the European Union (EU) in competition matters in exchange for access without tariffs or quotas to the European market.
The access of European fishermen to British waters, a subject which still does not seem to have progressed, remains hypersensitive for certain Member States.
During a meeting on Monday morning with the ambassadors of the Twenty-Seven Member States, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, did not hide the lack of progress on these three subjects.
A progress on Northern Ireland
However, amid difficult negotiations, the last discussions paid off. The British government announced on Tuesday, December 8, that it had reached an agreement with the EU allowing and had withdrawn the controversial provisions of its bill revising the Brexit treaty concluded in 2019, which angered Europeans in the midst of trade negotiations.
After a meeting on Monday in Brussels, officials of the two parties announced “an agreement in principle on all subjects, in particular concerning the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland“, said in a statement the British government, which will therefore withdraw the articles of its law which violated by its own admission international law.
The EU considers that certain elements of the law on the internal market, intended in particular to preserve the commercial integrity of the United Kingdom, violate the Brexit agreement.
Articles 44, 45 and 47 of the Home Market Bill will therefore be withdrawn and no other similar provision will appear in the Tax Bill, according to London. These clauses would have violated international law.
The UK Government set out on 17 September that Parliament would be asked to support the use of clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the UK Internal Market Bill, and any similar subsequent clauses in a Finance Bill, only in circumstances where the fundamental purposes of the Northern Ireland Protocol would be undermined.
For London, the purpose of this bill was to protect the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom by ensuring the continuity of trade between Great Britain and the province of Northern Ireland.
Read also : BREXIT : Only a few days left for a deal
This British gesture is akin to a concession made in Brussels, where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is awaited “in the coming days” to meet with the EU Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen.
In a June 2016 referendum, a majority of British voters decided to leave the EU. After almost four years of negotiations, the UK officially left the EU on January 31, 2020 but remains subject to EU rules during a transition that runs until December 31, time for the two parties to agree on the framework of their post-Brexit relationship, in particular in matters of trade, disputes settlement and the sharing of fishing rights.
From January 1, 2021 the UK will be treated by Brussels as a third country, with no more transition regime. Exchanges between London and the EU will be under the only rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), tariffs or quotas synonyms, at the risk of a new shock for economies already weakened by Covid-19 pandemics. Thus, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit worries the economic circles of both camps who fear negative impacts on their activities.
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