The United Kingdom and the European Union resuming negotiations in the British capital for a post-Brexit trade agreement, but the chances of finding a settlement are dwindling, while the London deadline is approaching.
On Monday, the UK receive European negotiator Michel Barnier, after a series of first meetings last week in Brussels, which the two sides concluded a day before their end due to “deep differences”, Barnier announced.
His British counterpart, David Frost, spoke of “great differences”.
After its exit on January 31 from the European Union after a 47-year partnership, Britain is currently negotiating with Brussels to try to establish a beneficial business relationship with the European bloc at the end of the transitional period on December 31.
So far, no real progress has been achieved by the talks as the deadline approaches, and with it the risk of an exit “without agreement”, which would be devastating to the already weak economies due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned upon assuming the presidency of the Union on Wednesday, that the 27 member states “must prepare for the possibility of not reaching an agreement”.
This prospect raises the fear of British companies that wish to be informed as soon as possible of the possibility of reaching an agreement or not, so that they can quickly initiate a costly emergency plan in the event of an exit “without an agreement”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would like to resolve the possibility of reaching an agreement since July, while Europeans believe that an agreement becomes possible in October, considering that this leaves enough time for member states and Britain to ratify the agreement on the new relationship that will enter into force in January 1, 2021.
A few weeks before the conservative prime minister’s deadline, the differences between the two sides remain great.
London refuses to accept that future trade disputes be brought before the European Court of Justice.
It would also like to reserve a greater portion of the fishing grounds that it currently shares with Member States.
The other obstacle to negotiations is the margin of British independence from European standards in terms of government assistance to the economy, the environment, and the right to work.
In the negotiations that open Monday in London, the two sides will seek to speed things up, after difficult talks last week in Brussels and a first round of discussions in the spring, which took place via video, in light of the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus.
If the two parties are unable to agree, as of January 2021 the trade relations between the two former partners, the WTO rules and the high customs duties required, will be applied as of January 2021.