To this day, there is still uncertainty about what will come after the Brexit transition phase. On Thursday, an EU summit is to discuss how to proceed. Without an agreement, there are serious consequences for the economy. How the negotiations threaten to fail.
It is not over till it’s over. This strange saying also applies to Brexit. Even after four and a half years, the stalemate about the British exit from the EU continues and grabs the nerves of thousands of entrepreneurs and tens of thousands of employees who fear economic chaos at the end of the year.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still keeping open to leave the negotiating table and let the envisaged trade agreement with the European Union break. He confirmed this after a phone call with EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Council chief Charles Michel. But Brussels expects work on the pact to continue. Today the EU summit will discuss the state of affairs.
Do both sides think an agreement is still possible?
The mood is fluctuating, but there is still hope. While Johnson has so far promised that Britain has a “fantastic future” without an agreement, he now emphasizes that London and Brussels could benefit from a trade pact. Minister of State Michael Gove put the chances of success for a deal at 66 percent. The SPD MEP Bernd Lange sees the chance only at 40 percent and tries German songs: “Either Katja Epstein: ‘There are always miracles’ or Christian Anders: ‘There is a train going nowhere’.” But the EU wants to continue negotiating.
Many in Brussels have been annoyed since Johnson tried with his internal market law to overturn special rules for Northern Ireland in the already valid Brexit agreement. London speaks of a “safety net”, but Brussels of a breach of contract. Mistrust is now clouding the negotiations on the new agreement.
What is actually being negotiated?
A trade pact is supposed to regulate the relations again after the economic separation. Great Britain left the EU in January, but will still be in the single market and customs union until the end of the year. The treaty aims to prevent tariffs and keep trade as smooth as possible. A number of other topics are negotiated, including police cooperation, data protection, climate protection, social security issues, residence rights and much more. An agreement of several hundred pages is due to come into force on January 1, 2021 – actually. But two and a half months before the deadline there is no mutually accepted contract text. Progress has been made on many points, but not on the crucial ones, it is said on both sides.
Why is that?
There are three sticking points: On the one hand, there is access for EU fishermen to British waters – for EU coastal states like France this is just as emotional a topic as it is for Great Britain, which finally wants to determine its rich fishing grounds alone. The second central point is the so-called level playing field: In return for duty-free access to the internal market, the EU wants the same environmental, social and aid standards to protect against dumping. But Great Britain no longer wants to be persuaded by the EU. This also applies to point three, so-called governance: The EU demands a reliable mediation instrument in the event that one side deviates from the treaty. With that she bites granite in London.