February 24, 2021

“Pessimism” in London and Brussels as the Brexit negotiation reaches deadlines


London and Brussels are given until Wednesday. It is the deadline. One more, but this time for more real than the previous ones. Among other things, because January 1, 2021 is when the current transition period ends and, because the United Kingdom did not ask for an extension, that date is immovable.

Biden shows Boris Johnson his loneliness in the final leg of the Brexit negotiations

Biden shows Boris Johnson his loneliness in the final leg of the Brexit negotiations

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Tick, tock, tick, tock … After a break this Saturday, the negotiations have been reactivated on Sunday, but this Monday the EU’s chief negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, has acknowledged that things are not looking good before the ambassadors of the 27 to the EU and the Brexit committee of the European Parliament. And this Monday, at 5:00 p.m., British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will speak by phone.

In parallel, the vice president of the European Commission Maros Sefcovic, meets this Monday with his counterpart, Michael Gove, in the joint commission for the implementation of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, which took place on January 31, 2020. “Me I am meeting with Michael Gove today in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. We are working hard to make sure it is fully operational from 1 January 2021. ”

The key to that meeting is that it takes place on the same day that the British Government has to decide on something that is all or nothing in the negotiations: to continue in the House of Commons with the Internal Market law that rewrites the protocol of Northern Ireland guaranteeing the border invisible on the island.

While that happens, Barnier has denied on Monday that the United Kingdom and the EU are getting closer in the eternal disagreement over fisheries, governance and a level playing field. [level playing field]. In a meeting with the ambassadors of the 27, Barnier has defended that it is up to the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to take the next step, denying information circulating from London about an alleged progress on the fisheries issue.

The telephone call this Monday afternoon between Johnson and Von der Leyen is key, according to diplomatic sources, who point out that the positions remain “far away” on key issues.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on his arrival in Brussels this Monday morning for a Council of Foreign Ministers that Barnier had made a “very gloomy and pessimistic” assessment of the prospects for an agreement with the EU ambassadors: “He is very cautious with the ability to progress today.”

“Negotiations have come to an end, time is running out quickly. Despite intense negotiations until last night, differences in level playing field, governance and fisheries have not yet been overcome. The outcome is still uncertain,” they say sources, warning that Brexit talks could fall apart in hours unless progress is made on Monday.

On the fisheries issue, the UK is resisting EU demands that countries like France and Belgium retain their historic fishing rights in the 6-12 nautical mile area off the British coast. The two sides are also continuing to negotiate over the duration of a multi-year transition period during which the access of EU fishing vessels to UK waters would be safeguarded, the Financial Times explains, noting that a new complication has emerged. due to British lawsuits related to ownership of UK registered fishing vessels.

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