The pressure on both sides is increasing by the hour: the British and the EU are running out of time for an agreement on 1 January. The outcome remains uncertain. All information in the news blog.
Great Britain and the European Union are still negotiating an agreement for the British to leave the EU. EU Commission Chair Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have now extended a deadline that originally ran until Sunday. The bottlenecks have not changed for months: fishing, fair competition and the question of how agreements are legally enforced in the event of a dispute.
EU: “Hour of Truth” has come
The EU sees the “moment of truth” in negotiations with Britain on a post-Brexit trade deal. “There is only a short time, a few hours” for an agreement to enter into force on January 1, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in the EU parliament in Brussels on Friday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described success in the negotiations as possible but “difficult”.
“Our door is open,” said Johnson on a visit to Bolton, North West England. “We’ll keep talking, but I have to say it looks difficult.” The EU must “accept reason and come to the table”.
After a phone call with the Prime Minister on Thursday evening, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke of “big differences” that have yet to be bridged. That “will be a great challenge”.
“The moment of truth has come,” said Barnier. “I cannot say what will happen during the latter part of the negotiations.” The most difficult points were discussed, in particular the issue of access to British waters for European fishermen.
Scottish head of government for swift accession to the EU
Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon is sticking to her plans for Scotland to join the EU. After the independence referendum she is aiming for, she will quickly lead her country into the European Union, Sturgeon said in an interview with Die Welt newspaper and other European media. “According to the latest polls, more than half of Scots want independence. I am convinced that the Scots will say yes in the next referendum.”
According to Sturgeon, Scotland is “a one-time event for rapid entry into the EU” and “no enlargement”. After all, as part of the United Kingdom, Scotland had been a member for more than 40 years. “Scotland is coming home, this is not a new beginning.”
Scotland needs London’s approval for the referendum. If Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not allow a referendum, Sturgeon is not ruling out legal action. If London refuses to approve, we have to see if the Scottish Parliament can pass the necessary legislation. This question has not yet been raised in court, but I am not ruling it out. We cannot allow the British government to block democracy. “
Von der Leyen sees clear progress – fishing remains a problem
In the dispute over a Brexit trade pact, London and Brussels still see major differences despite progress. Especially in London, the chances of a deal are not so well estimated. After a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday evening, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that substantial progress had been made on many points. But there are still differences, especially when it comes to fishing. “Bridging them will be quite a challenge.” The British Prime Minister warned that the talks were in a “dire situation”. Time is short and it is very likely that no agreement will be reached unless the EU “changes substantially” its position.
Von der Leyen is on the phone with Boris Johnson
EU Commission Chair Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have agreed on another Brexit call for Thursday evening (8 p.m. CET). It involves discussing the status of the negotiations on the planned trade deal, von der Leyen spokesman Eric Mamer said on Twitter.
Both parties had previously given different ratings. EU negotiator Michel Barnier had stated there was “good progress” but also “final stumbling blocks”. A Johnson spokesperson was more cautious: “We’ve made some progress in a few areas, but there are still significant differences in key areas.”
Just two weeks before the end of the transitional phase of Brexit on December 31, the European Union is still negotiating a follow-up agreement with Great Britain. Should it come to that, it should be ratified before the end of the year. Without a contract there is a risk of tariffs and serious trade barriers.
European Parliament sets deadline for Brexit treaty
The European Parliament will negotiate a possible Brexit trade pact through Sunday. If a finished text is available at midnight, it will be ready to schedule a special session for ratification, a resolution by parliamentary leaders said on Thursday.
CSU European politician Manfred Weber had previously promoted this deadline. “I proposed this morning to the leadership of the European Parliament to approve a Brexit deal if we get it on Sunday,” the European People’s Party group leader wrote on Twitter. “After that, we can no longer properly examine the deal before the end of the year. The treaty is too important to rage through parliament.”
There is no breakthrough in sight in the stalled Brexit negotiations. EU officials and diplomats said an agreement before Friday is unlikely. On one of the main points of contention – the question of future fishing quotas – there were still differences. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told MPs on Thursday that a deal was possible, but difficult, especially on fisheries. The AFP agency had previously reported that Barnier thought an agreement was possible by Friday. Barnier himself tweeted that good progress had been made, but that an obstacle had not yet been removed.
Second night of the fisheries negotiations: “will be a special challenge”
Next year’s negotiations by EU Agriculture Ministers on fishing quotas are expected to enter the second night in a row. According to diplomatic circles in Brussels, a first compromise proposal from the German presidency of the EU Council did not reach an agreement on Wednesday. Negotiations on allowable catches in the Atlantic, North Sea, Mediterranean and Black Sea were complicated by the uncertainty created by the stalled trade talks with Great Britain.
“That will be a special challenge,” said Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) on the second day of a meeting with EU colleagues in Brussels. But an agreement is essential, “because if we cannot agree on quotas, fishing is prohibited”. “It could last late into the night.”
In Brussels, there is regular bickering at night about the maximum catch for fishermen. In this case, the problem is compounded by the fact that EU fishermen’s access to UK waters is not guaranteed. The question is one of the bottlenecks in the stalled negotiations between Brussels and London on a trade deal after Brexit.
British pet owners will need a new certificate when entering the EU after Brexit
UK pet owners will have to provide a new document for their pets when they enter the EU after Brexit. After the transition phase ended on January 1, pet owners would be required to present a health certificate for their pets, the British government announced on Wednesday. This must not be older than ten days upon arrival and must be issued by a specially authorized veterinarian.
As before, the animals also need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. For pets traveling from the EU to Great Britain with their owners, the old rule remains: they only need an EU pet passport.
Von der Leyen sees clear progress in the Brexit talks
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sees significant progress in the negotiations with Britain on a post-Brexit trade deal. “The good news is that we have found a way forward with the most problems,” von der Leyen said in the European Parliament on Wednesday. So there is movement on two of the three main points of contention. “The coming days will be decisive,” said von der Leyen.
The issue of controlling a future agreement has been “largely resolved”, the Commission head explained. On the issue of fair competition, both sides had agreed on “a strong mechanism” that would avoid catching up with previous standards. But there are still problems with the question “how to make fair competition truly future-proof”.
In contrast, the discussion on the issue of EU fishermen’s fishing rights in UK waters remains “very difficult,” said von der Leyen. “Sometimes you feel that we cannot solve this question.” Both sides are now “so close and yet so far” from an agreement, von der Leyen told MPs. Until the questions about competition and fishing are resolved, there can be no agreement.
Von der Leyen: London must either accept EU rules or pay a price
Despite the extreme time pressure, the EU still sees opportunities for a Brexit trade pact with Great Britain from 1 January. The next few days are crucial, EU negotiator Michel Barnier wrote on Twitter. In the European Parliament, however, anger is growing because there is almost no time left to ratify a possible treaty before the end of the year.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had agreed to continue the negotiations, although they had actually announced a decision for Sunday. The Brexit transition period ends on December 31. Then, after leaving the EU at the end of January, Great Britain also leaves the internal market and the customs union. Without a connection agreement there is a risk of tariffs and trade barriers.
Von der Leyen said on Monday that one question was crucial: “And that is whether Britain wants smooth access to the internal market.” Britain is welcome: “But either they have to abide by our rules, because that’s a matter of fairness to our companies in the internal market, or the other option is they pay a price and the price is tariffs.” By this she was referring to a mechanism that should guarantee fair competition: if Great Britain deviates from EU standards, the EU could impose tariffs. In addition to EU fishing rights in British waters, demand is the central sticking point in the negotiations.
After renewal: new hope for a trade agreement
Following the extension for talks on a Brexit trade pact, hopes are growing that another breakthrough may come. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told Irish broadcaster RTÉ on Sunday that the negotiators were extremely closed about the details of the talks. “This is a sign that there are serious discussions going on and neither side is breaking trust. I see that as a good sign,” said the Irishman.
Originally, the final decision was to be made on Sunday whether to break off negotiations for a trade pact or whether a deal should be reached. But after a brief phone call between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, both sides announced that talks should continue. However, no concrete progress has been made. A new deadline was not initially mentioned.
The main arguments are to ensure fair competition and access for European fishermen to UK waters. There is also no consensus on the instruments to be used to enforce the agreement.
Talks about the Brexit pact are being extended again
Talks on a Brexit trade pact between Great Britain and the European Union are still ongoing. Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed during a telephone conversation on Sunday, both parties announced.
A final decision on the negotiations should already have been made, but this has now been postponed again. The issues of fair competition and access for European fishermen to UK waters are particularly controversial. There is also no consensus on the instruments to be used to enforce the agreement. Read here the whole article.
The UK government publishes details on how to prepare for a no deal
Hours before the end of what is likely the latest deadline in the fight for a Brexit trade pact, the London government has released details of its “no deal” plan. A government spokesman said a strategy book had been developed that “played out every predictable scenario”.
It is feared that a “no deal” after the end of the Brexit transition phase could lead to miles of traffic jams on the roads to the important ferry terminal in Dover by the end of the year. Much of the trade with the European continent takes place via the ferry connection to Calais in France and via the nearby Eurotunnel.
In any case, some physical checks must be carried out. But if no agreement is reached, there are also customs duties and quantity restrictions to be observed. The formalities and controls required for this can quickly overwhelm small and medium-sized businesses in particular and cause trucks to get stuck at checkpoints. In addition, some of the computer programs developed for this purpose could not be tested.
The government spokesman emphasized that 900 additional employees had already been hired for border controls. In March, 1,100 more should come on board. Seven locations in the hinterland and a head office that is operational around the clock have been set up for inspections. There are also telephone hotlines and an app that carriers can use.
Negotiations on the post-Brexit agreement were renewed
UK and EU have extended their negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal. “Despite exhaustion after nearly a year of negotiations,” both sides wanted to “go one step further,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in Brussels on Sunday after a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Brexit negotiations shortly before the deadline remain difficult
Shortly before the likely decisive day in the battle for a Brexit trade pact, no further solution is in sight, according to information from the negotiating circles. Negotiations in Brussels continued, but remained difficult, the British said Saturday evening. Further discussions, including on Sundays, are likely. As planned, EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are expected to speak on Sunday, he said. The British position was unchanged: any agreement must be fair and respect the principles of sovereignty and control.
Great Britain left the EU at the beginning of this year. There is another transition period until the end of the year, in which almost everything remains the same. If a trade pact has not yet been concluded by then, there is a risk of high tariffs and other trade barriers. The main points of contention are the issues of fair competition and access for European fishermen to UK waters. Both parties have taken until Sunday to reach an agreement.
A British warship (symbol): The British navy has ships ready to protect its own waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit. (Source: YuliixZozulia / Image Images)
London wants to take action against EU fishing boats if there is no deal with the Royal Navy
The UK government has four Royal Navy ships on hand to protect their waters from EU fishermen in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense in London on Saturday at the request of the German news agency. The Navy’s patrol boats could be used, among other things, to repel EU fishing boats, the spokesman said. Also around the clock if necessary.
Fisheries is one of the bottlenecks in the stalled negotiations for a Brexit trade pact. There is another transition period until the end of the year, during which British fishermen and their colleagues from EU countries share access to the 200-mile coastal zone claimed by Britain. London insists on regulating access to fish-rich waters as it sees fit in the future. The EU is pushing for an amicable settlement. But that is not in sight. Both sides have given until Sunday to make progress in the negotiations.
Oliver Dowden: The British Culture and Media Secretary is even more optimistic than his Prime Minister. (Source: Mark Thomas / Image Images)
The British minister remains optimistic
Following British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s skeptical words about a Brexit trade pact with the EU, the London government is now rooting a bit back. He agrees with the head of government that the negotiations are likely to fail. But there is “a significant chance that we can close this deal,” Culture and Media Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News on Friday. “We did almost 90 percent of the trip.” A trade deal is the best solution for both the EU and the UK, but not at any cost.
Johnson had said Thursday night, “I think we need to be very, very clear that now there is a high chance – a high probability – that we will have a solution that is more in line with Australia’s relationship with the EU than the Canadian. Everyone should now prepare for “the Australian option” – that is, trade without a deal, with tariffs under the rules of the World Trade Organization.
The foreign ministers of Germany and Ireland still consider Brexit possible
Despite the negative signals from Brussels and London, the Foreign Ministers of Germany and Ireland believe that an agreement in the Brexit negotiations is still possible. “We think an agreement is difficult, but that it is still possible,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) Friday during a meeting with his Irish colleague Simon Coveney in Berlin. The EU will continue to negotiate as long as the window for an agreement is “just opened ajar”.
“We want an agreement, but an agreement that is correct,” said Maas. The EU is also prepared in the event of no agreement. And in this case, the EU and Britain would “still remain partners and friends”. “It will be our responsibility to make that very clear even after such a situation,” says Maas.
His Irish colleague Coveney said his country was one of the hardest hit by Brexit. “We still believe it is possible to reach an agreement on the future relationship and negotiate a trade deal,” said Coveney.
Norway is a threat to the EU and Great Britain
If talks fail after Brexit, Norway threatens to close its waters to fishermen from the EU and Great Britain on January 1. Necessary agreements on fishing rights between the three parties off the coast of non-EU member Norway next year following Britain’s exit from the EU would have been seriously delayed due to stalled negotiations between Brussels and London, Norway’s Fisheries Minister said Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen. on Friday in front of the parliament in Oslo. If there is no agreement on fishing by the end of the year, Norway will close its waters to UK and EU boats.
The EU and Norway have regulated fishing in their respective waters since 1980 with an agreement. This gives fishermen from EU countries access to the Norwegian sea – and vice versa. Due to Brexit, contracts between Brussels, London and Oslo had to be renegotiated. Norway and Great Britain agreed on a follow-up agreement in September. So the government in Oslo now sees the EU’s turn.
Von der Leyen prepares heads of state for “No Deal”
Brexit was also an issue at the EU summit on Thursday. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, gave the heads of state or government little hope. Read more here.
Johnson hands over the queen due to Brexit
The British Prime Minister and Queen traditionally meet for Christmas. But this year, Johnson may postpone the meeting at short notice. Read more here.
Johnson puts the British on the failure of the talks
After the Brexit dinner, Prime Minister Johnson is pessimistic about the latest sprint in the negotiations on a trade deal. On television he calls on the British to prepare for the failure of the talks. Read more here.