British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks on Monday with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Their starting point was the unfortunate fact that after four rounds of discussions about a possible deal, no significant breakthrough was achieved. Johnson insists that the negotiations be completed by the fall, in order to reach some certainty, given that the transition period ends in December. For the European Union, this means that Britain does not intend to extend the transition period, and if the deal is not reached, the United Kingdom will be ready to begin trade under the WTO rules from January 1, 2021.
Apparently, Johnson wants the negotiating teams to meet every week until the end of July in a private, one-on-one format. At the same time, the negotiators put forward their “pro” and “contra”. For example, the French side does not rule out Brexit without a treaty if Johnson refuses to allow fishing vessels into British waters and does not provide the same competition rules for Europeans and Britons.
The only thing that looks fundamental so far is that neither Britain nor Europe is satisfied with a 180-degree turn from each other. The divorce of the parties, whose joint economy has been accumulating over decades and by common efforts, is an extremely difficult matter. Britain is clearly overestimating its solo sailing capabilities. Moreover, patronage from the United States is not guaranteed against the backdrop of the upcoming presidential elections. To remain without such a high patron of Britain would be clearly uncomfortable.
Now the most heated debate is on the part of the schedule of all the upcoming stages of Brexit. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, believes that agreements can be quickly finalized and put on the table in the European and British parliaments by the end of October. The British BBC believes that even if a compromise is reached this summer, parliamentarians will begin discussions only in December.
British side admits: progress in negotiations “remains limited”
Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, is inclined to believe the negotiations are at an impasse. At the same time, London and Brussels are extremely interested in speeding up negotiations and concluding a deal as soon as possible. There are many forecasts on this score. The British Daily Telegraph is quite optimistic that the parties will reach a compromise by the fall.
BBC European editor Katya Adler asks the question: Has a light loomed at the end of the tunnel in a negotiation dead end? And he replies: not really. So far, these are not high-level negotiations, but only a summing up. But what was noticeably absent in the past negotiations was the question of how far each side is ready to compromise. Without mutual concessions, any declarations to agree on the terms of a deal are doomed to failure.
Proceeding from the wisdom “if you want peace, prepare for war”, the European Union is preparing today for the worst scenario, namely: Brexit without any deal. The British side admits that progress in the negotiations “remains limited.” Disagreements have not been resolved over fisheries, police engagement and ensuring a level playing field for the EU and the UK.
Downing Street, 10, hopes that from the end of June, negotiations will be held weekly until the end of July, sometimes one-on-one to better understand each other. The Prime Minister’s Office says the Brexit deal is achievable by the end of the summer. The country’s leadership has no doubts that by the fall, a free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union will be reached by the end of the summer.
At the same time, British observers emphasize the absurd fact that the country, which has not yet achieved noticeable success in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic, is prioritizing negotiations with the EU. And what do the British, tired of the double disaster of Brexit multiplied by the epidemic, think of all this? 65 percent of those polled are in favor of extending the transition period, and only 31 percent are against. It remains to be seen how the events will unfold in the country, which, by the will of fate, on the awakened volcano.