The European Union and the United Kingdom agreed on Wednesday keep negotiating their relationship after brexit in the next few days and make a decision about the future of the conversations the next Sunday.
The announcement was made after a three-hour face-to-face meeting that were kept at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels by the president of the Community Executive, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson.
British Government sources assured that Johnson and Von der Leyen agreed that “by Sunday they should make a firm decision on the future of the talks, “while German politics said in a statement that it was agreed that the negotiating teams meet” immediately “to try to resolve the main pending points.” We will make a decision by the end of the weekend. ” , completed Von der Leyen.
The European Union and the United Kingdom still no progress on key issues of guarantees to ensure fair competition between British and Community companies, fisheries and the mechanisms to resolve disputes over the future pact.
The agreement must be reached and ratified in the community club and the Westminster Parliament before the end of the year, since on January 1, Community legislation will have ceased to apply in British territory and the United Kingdom will have become a third country permanently.
If they do not succeed, the two parties will be governed in their commercial exchanges by the more general tariff requirements and less favorable from the World Trade Organization.
“Very large gaps”
Given the blockage in the talks and the tight deadlines, Von der Leyen and Johnson decided to hold the face-to-face meeting this Wednesday, which began at 20:00 hours (19:00 GMT) and concluded around 23:00 hours (22:00 GMT), after talking on the phone on Monday.
The president of the Commission said on Wednesday that the discussion with the prime minister was “lively and interesting”, focused on outstanding issues to reach agreement. “We got a clear understanding of each other’s positions. They remain very far away “, confirmed German policy.
British Executive sources described as “frank” the debate on the “significant obstacles” that remain in the negotiations.
“Very large gaps remain between the two parties and still it is not clear whether bridges can be built. The prime minister and Von der Leyen agreed to continue discussions over the next few days between their negotiating teams. The prime minister does not want to leave any route to a possible deal untested, “UK sources said.
After dinner on Wednesday, Von der Leyen had planned to inform the leaders of the Twenty-seven about the outcome of the meeting at the european summit which starts on Thursday in Brussels.
Options for “a good deal”
Before traveling to the Belgian capital, Johnson warned that no UK head of government should “accept” the terms for the future bilateral relationship after the brexit that the European Union has offered so far.
Anyway, the premier assured that there are still options to close “a good deal” before the deadline of December 31, although he stressed that the EU must lower its red lines.
“Our friends in the European Union are insisting that if they pass a new law in the future with which we in this country do not want to comply or with which we do not agree, they will have the right to automatic right to punish and retaliate “, affirmed the leader tory in the House of Commons.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) this week sent a letter to the EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, in which it precisely defended a mechanism to ensure that the standards of the United Kingdom and the 27 evolve in a similar way in the future to avoid imbalances in competition.
Merkel insists on ensuring fair competition
For her part, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, stressed on Wednesday that there are “conditions” of the United Kingdom in the negotiations that she cannot “accept” and pointed out that the “integrity of the common market” must be absolutely “guaranteed”.
Merkel made these statements when speaking before the plenary session of the Bundestag (lower house), where she stressed that she will continue to work with the European Council and the Commission to reach an agreement with the United Kingdom on the future relationship after the brexit, but that a way has also been designed to move forward if it is not possible an agreement that includes the minimum requirements of the EU.
“There is an opportunity to reach an agreement but I don’t think that tomorrow [por el jueves] let us know if it has been possible or not “he acknowledged.
“One thing is clear: the integrity of the Internal Market has to be guaranteed,” Merkel insisted: “we have to guarantee a balanced playing field not only for today but for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, “he added about fair competition, one of the elements that still prevents the pact.
“This question of fair competition between two legal systems that are moving away It is the great problem for which we still have to find a satisfactory solution, “settled the Chancellor, who assured that this issue is more important than that of fishing.