Leaders of European Union member states meeting in Brussels on Thursday are determined to express their firmness on the post-Brexit relationship with London, despite pressure from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hints at the threat of a halt to negotiations. AFP.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom had an exchange of views on Wednesday evening with the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, on which occasion the three leaders could only note the lack of progress in the talks. many months.
“The European Union is working to reach an agreement, but not at any cost,” Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter after the nearly 10-minute meeting. “There is still a lot of work to be done,” she added.
For his part, Boris Johnson “noted the desire to reach an agreement, but expressed disappointment that no further progress had been made,” Downing Street said in a statement.
He said he was “looking forward to the outcome of the European summit” before “presenting the next steps for the United Kingdom in the light of the September 7 statement”.
Boris Johnson’s threat has disappointed Europeans, who hope that Wednesday night’s talks with EC and European Council presidents will boost negotiations between Brussels and London.
According to a draft conclusion consulted by AFP, state and government leaders would limit themselves to finding “with concern” that “the progress made” in the negotiations “is still not enough”. EU leaders will also call on chief negotiator Michel Barnier to “intensify negotiations” by the end of October.
Negotiations are currently stalling on three issues: fisheries, the competition guarantees required by London and how to resolve disputes under the future agreement.
The United Kingdom officially left the European Union on 31 January, more than three and a half years after voting for Brexit, with 52% to 48%, in a referendum held in 2016. There is currently a transition period until December 31, during which time it will continue to apply European rules. If London and Brussels do not reach an agreement on future relations, then from 1 January 2021 trade relations between the EU and the United Kingdom will be governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization.
The climate issue will also be debated on Thursday evening, with the EU set to update its greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2030 by the end of this year. The European Commission is aiming for a 55% drop from 1990 levels. , so as to achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2050. Instead, the European Parliament calls for a reduction of at least 60%.
The second day of the EU summit on Friday will be devoted to external relations and the health crisis related to COVID-19.