The European Union is ready to continue negotiating, it has a preference for reaching an agreement “although not at any price”, it will maintain unity and asks the United Kingdom to take “the necessary steps to make it possible”. So it’s time for Boris Johnson, who a month ago launched the order to end this negotiation on October 15 and who will not be able to fulfill it (except outburst) due to the bitterness of the situation. EU leaders are counting on it to continue. They understand that achieving a basic pact – which will force it to be substantiated beyond December 31, when the transitional period expires – is in the interest of both London and Brussels. And more in the context of pandemic crisis. Although just in case they call to prepare for all possible scenarios “including the lack of agreement.”
It is the essence left by the messages of a text of conclusions that the European Council issued this Thursday after dedicating the first fifty minutes (out of a total of more than two hours) to debate the ‘Brexit’ negotiations. The matter marked the first day of the summit of Heads of State and Government in Brussels that was called to be more or less conclusive for the future relationship with the British, but which was oriented towards the reaffirmation of the work of Michel Barnier and his negotiating team .
In this final stretch, with the issue more than stranded, it could be the carte blanche for the French to intensify that negotiation, leading it to what is known as the ‘tunnel’ (an opaque negotiation, without leaks, seriously). This same Thursday, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, asked the leaders to leave cell phones and tablets in their lockers while they listened to Barnier’s presentation and the deliberations that followed. No detail of what was being discussed there should go outside.
“Two or three weeks”. That is the margin that is available for save an agreement and be able to complete the ratification procedure in the British and European parliaments on time. A very compressed time to overcome the three obstacles that are identified as most critical: fishing (access to water and catch quotas), fair competition (especially with regard to State aid) and governance. “There is still a lot of work ahead. There is the prospect of an agreement that we have to finalize, ”Barnier explained at the end of the meeting. Your schedule? Conversation this Friday with David Frost, British negotiator. Then a new round of negotiation next week in London and the next in Brussels.
Pay attention to London
While awaiting the pronouncement of Boris Johnson, Frost has already advanced via Twitter his “disappointment” and “surprise” at the conclusions of the leaders and “the suggestion that to reach an agreement all future movements must come from the United Kingdom. It is an unusual position in a negotiation. The key is whether Johnson will consider this Friday that the time has come to accelerate preparations for a no-deal outcome. Just in case that scenario is also discounted in the EU.
It calls for “intensifying preparedness work at all levels and for all outcomes”. To the European Commission, in particular, to have “the unilateral emergency measures of limited duration that are of interest to the EU”.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had to leave the leaders’ meeting room, which she had been in for almost an hour, when she was informed that one of her office members had tested positive in the morning. «I myself have tested negative. But as a precautionary measure, I immediately leave the European Council to go into self-isolation, “he confirmed via Twitter at 4:20 pm. Before starting the European Council, the German had already held bilateral meetings with the presidents of Portugal and the Czech Republic.