This “new effort” was decided on Saturday evening at the highest level by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, after negotiations were suspended for 24 hours on Friday after a week. unsuccessful in London.
The two officials will make a new point on Monday evening, under the increasingly intense pressure of the calendar, since a possible trade agreement will still have to be ratified by the British and European parliaments before entering into force on January 1.
Germany, which currently holds the EU presidency, welcomed the continuation of the talks, recalling that it would not accept a deal “at any price”.
A commitment intended to reassure Europeans, at a time when tensions arose this week between the Twenty-Seven, some fearing that the EU would grant too large concessions to avoid a “no deal”, according to European sources.
These 48 hours promise to be at high risk since Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen could only note again on Saturday evening “the significant differences” on the three subjects which have blocked discussions since March.
These are the competition guarantees demanded by Europeans in exchange for British quota-free and tariff-free access to their large market, the way of settling disputes and fishing.
Despite its low economic weight, this last question is hypersensitive for certain European states, in particular France which brandished the threat of a veto if the agreement were to harm its fishermen, free until now to access British waters, while London intends to regain control.
“The three subjects are linked to each other by the common thread of sovereignty on the British side – the + take back control + of Brexiteers – and that of the protection of the interests of Europeans” who refuse to see the emergence of a deregulated economy at their doorstep, underlines a European source.
Hot topic at the top
European negotiator Michel Barnier has been cautious about resuming talks. “We’ll see if we can move forward,” he said in a tweet.
While the Europeans said they wanted to succeed this weekend, this new 48-hour streak may not be the last, as the Brexit saga has been so rich in twists and turns.
Whatever the outcome on Monday evening, the future relationship with London should anyway be one of the hot topics of the European summit on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.
Since the official departure of the United Kingdom on January 31, London has continued to apply European rules. It is only at the end of this transitional period, on December 31, that it will leave the single market and the customs union.
In the absence of an agreement, trade between London and the EU will take place from 1 January under the sole rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), synonymous with customs duties or quotas, running the risk of a new economic shock in addition to that linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
Adding further to the tension of the negotiations and to the mistrust of Europeans towards London, a very controversial text made its return Monday before British deputies: the bill on the internal market.
Despite the fury of Brussels, the Johnson government will reintroduce its provisions deemed problematic by the EU – redacted by the upper house of Parliament – which reserve the possibility of overriding certain provisions of the divorce treaty concluded just a year ago . London ensures that it is about a “safety net”, which would not have any more to be in the event of agreement.