EU President Ursula Von der Leyen said in a brief statement in Brussels that a trade agreement is being negotiated with the United Kingdom. She’s had a phone call with Prime Minister Johnson. He will also update his cabinet.
“We have decided to go that extra mile,” said Von der Leyen in her short speech. She did not mention a deadline for the end of the negotiations.
“Our negotiating teams have been working day and night for the past few days. And despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed time and time again, we think it is right now to take that extra mile,” says Von der Leyen.
Prime Minister Johnson also made a statement. According to him, the positions of the EU and the UK are “still very far apart on important issues” and the British should be prepared for a no deal by 31 December. That’s what he said after consulting his cabinet.
But ” we’ll keep talking to see what’s possible. The UK will certainly not run away from the talks.”He also reiterated his offer to speak to other EU leaders.
“Von der Leyen said very little in substance, but what she said was more positive than we have heard recently, because she wants to talk about it”, concludes EU correspondent Thomas Spekschoor.
Similarly, correspondent Tim De Wit in London welcomes the fact that the negotiations have not collapsed today. “This day has been pumped up by the British tabloids into no-deal Day. After all, all this rhetoric has turned out to be a smokescreen, and it turns out that there is still enough ground to talk through. This is explained here as a silver lining.”
Long road ahead
The British Foreign minister Dominic Raab said this morning that ‘there is still a long way to go’. He did not rule out the possibility that the talks will continue beyond today.
The main bottleneck in the discussions is how closely the UK will have to comply with EU economic rules in the future. The British want to keep access to the European single market, but at the same time acquire a degree of sovereignty. The EU takes the view that the benefits of Access mean that countries comply with European rules.
According to Raab, the EU is concerned that the Brexit will be good for the UK and will provide a competitive advantage. The EU wants to prevent the British from having favourable trading conditions with the EU while at the same time favouring their own companies with, for example, subsidies.
Fishing rights are also still a matter of disagreement. The British want to seal off the fishing waters around the United Kingdom for European fishermen, who actually take a very large part of their catch out of the water.
Supermarkets have already been told that they must prepare for massive hoardings if no deal is made. The fear is that there will be a shortage of vegetables for a few months if there is a ‘hard Brexi’t. The vegetables in British supermarkets come for a large part of the European continent.
Daily reports the failure to reach an agreement to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who, according to a newspaper source, is determined to ‘make the United Kingdom crawl over broken glass instead of compromise’.