The European side sees a dim light through the dense fog surrounding the torturous Brexit negotiations, although Boris Johnson’s government insists, at least in its public rhetoric, that leaving without a trade deal remains the most likely scenario.
“There is mobility, that’s good. We are talking about a new beginning with old friends. “We are in the final stretch, but it is crucial,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told an OECD Internet conference yesterday.
The deadline set by both sides for a trade deal expired on Sunday, but Johnson and Von der Layen decided to run “another mile” in the negotiating marathon, hoping to prevent a last-minute Brexit. . Under the current exit agreement, the United Kingdom will leave the European single market and the customs union on 1 January 2021. The head of the European negotiators, Michel Barnier, expressed his belief that an agreement can still be reached during yesterday’s briefing of the “27” ambassadors on the progress of the talks.
According to the British newspaper Guardian, citing diplomatic sources, Barnier said that in the last twenty-four hours there has been an approach to one of the three issues of disagreement, the arbitration mechanism for resolving future disputes. The same source claimed that the rapprochement became possible after the retreat of London. However, until yesterday, the disputes over the EU fisheries rights remained unresolved. in British waters and on the far more serious issue of ensuring a level playing field, which requires Britain to comply with a range of European rules affecting labor rights, environmental regulations and government subsidies.
Officially, the Johnson administration appeared more restrained than Brussels on the prospects of negotiations. The British Prime Minister said on Sunday that the chances are tilting towards not reaching an agreement, although he added that “where there is life, there is hope”. Yesterday, however, the government spokesman in London said that there is a possibility of a successful outcome of the negotiations and that his country will not give up until all the margins are exhausted.
On either side of the Channel, in Dover, England, and in Calais, France, the queues of trucks carrying goods have already begun to grow alarmingly. Expressing his country’s hard line, French Finance Minister Brino Le Merre said yesterday that “in case of disagreement the losers will be the British” and that France does not have much to lose because of the volume of its trade with the big island. is relatively small. “I am sorry that our British friends have to pay the price, because they pay the price of populism, they pay the price for lies,” the French official said.