Brexit: Negotiations extended under threat of French veto

France today threatened to veto a European Union trade deal with the United Kingdom that it considers unsatisfactory, as London and Brussels accelerate to take effect in the coming days.

“If there is an agreement that will not be good, we will oppose it,” French Foreign Minister Clement Bonn warned on Europe 1 today. “Yes. “Every country has a veto.”

France will make its own assessment of the text of any agreement. “We owe it to the French, we owe it to our fishermen and to other sectors of the economy,” he said, adding that “there is a risk that an agreement will not be reached and we must prepare for it.”

Read also: Brexit: Trade talks at a “very difficult point”

This warning and the pressure it is exerting on the negotiation process reflects France’s growing concern that the European Union will make excessive concessions to the European Union in order to avoid the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December without an agreement.

According to a European diplomat, France’s concern is shared by other European capitals, such as Rome, Madrid, Brussels and Copenhagen. “We do not want to be trapped in an unbalanced relationship for decades to come,” he explains.
Ensuring unity

Indicating the divergence of views between the 27, many European sources say that Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, and the European Commission under Ursula von der Leyen are seeking a “cost-effective” agreement.

“We will hold to the last minute, the last second of this process to ensure unity between us,” European Council President Charles Michel said today.

“There is a negotiation process at the moment… We will see in the coming hours or days what the next steps are,” he said, adding that the Commission would first present the outcome of the negotiations before the Member States what is on the table “. “I do not intend to prejudge,” he said.

A European summit will be held on 10 and 11 December in Brussels.

European negotiator Michel Barnier has been in London since the beginning of the week, where he will remain today for the final talks, hoping to reach an agreement before the end of the weekend. Otherwise any agreement will not be able to be ratified in time before 31 December by the 27 national parliaments.
The thorny issues

Without an agreement on their relationship from 1 January, trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union will be governed by the World Trade Organization, ie by imposing tariffs and quotas, with the risk of a new economic shock added to the shock of the coronavirus epidemic.

Three thorny issues block an agreement: European fishermen’s access to British waters, a level playing field and how to resolve disputes arising from the implementation of the trade agreement.

A government source in the United Kingdom said yesterday that the European Union had made new, unexpected and stricter demands for government subsidies under pressure from France.

Undersecretary of State for Finance Alok Sarma told the BBC that the Brexit negotiations were in a difficult phase, with a number of “sensitive issues” pending.

“We want the European Union to recognize that the United Kingdom is a sovereign and independent country. On this basis, an agreement must be reached. ”

Source: AFP