A settlement is still out of reach and the UK leaves the EU on December 31.
European leaders meet this Thursday by videoconference to, among other issues, take stock of the situation of the negotiations between Brussels and London for a “Brexi ‘ agreed to avoid another economic problem for Europe and a destruction to the United Kingdom, which shows every day that it is not prepared to leave the European Union permanently without that agreement.
The time is running out. The negotiators confess that they have just five weeks left to close the agreement, shape it into an international treaty (it already has more than 600 pages of drafts), translate it into the 24 official languages of the European Union and ratify it at least in the European Parliament and in the British Parliament.
European leaders, according to community sources, will decide this Thursday that the European negotiator, former French chancellor and former European commissioner Michel Barnier, can continue negotiating but that for them there is really no time, so they will ask the European Commission to activate the contingency plans it prepared for the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit. Those plans that were always thought more like a threat to the British – who saw that Europe was prepared for their departure without agreement – to be used.
The governments at the forefront of that request – the French, the Belgian and the Dutch, although the majority agree – want the publication of these contingency plans to serve as a definitive signal so that companies and citizens know that the possibilities of a British exit from the European Union without agreements.
The negotiations They have advanced in recent days after several days of intense talks between European and British negotiators, but the agreement is not within reach. The clash continues to be in fisheries policy, avoiding unfair competition and dumping by the British side and how the agreement will be forced if either party violates it.
The Brexiteers promised their fishermen that English waters would be just for them. European governments, especially those with fishing fleets used to going to British fishing grounds, such as the French, the Belgian, the Dutch, the Danish and the Spanish, reject that their boats have to leave those waters. London would stick shot in the foot because doing so would mean that their fishing boats could not sell their catch in the European markets, where they send 70% of what they catch.
Brussels has still failed to get British negotiators to commit not to unfair competition in the future. While Europe does not want it to appear a tax haven On the shores of the continent, London continues to play with the idea of competing with Europeans with measures of fiscal, labor or environmental dumping. The governance of the future agreement is key because among Europeans trust in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is approaching zero.
Despite the difficulties, some begin to see the glass as half full. Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin, whose country will be one of the hardest hit if Brexit is finally made rough, considers that, “after speaking and meeting with Boris Johnson (the British prime minister), I have the feeling that instinctively he would see the interest of an agreement”.