Tag: Brussels

With deadlock resolved, bloc breaks the stalemate with EU budget and Covid-recovery fund
Europe

With deadlock resolved, bloc breaks the stalemate with EU budget and Covid-recovery fund

Covid-recovery fund: European Union had chalked out a budget and Covid-19 recovery fund for the bloc as €1.8tn, but the deal had faced a deadlock after Poland and Hungary had threatened to veto the budget. The two nations had warned to veto over clause that tied the decided the EU budget with rule of law adherence. The deal has now been struck right after EU leaders reached a deal with Poland and Hungary. 

The unprecedented seven year budget of €1.8tn along with the coronavirus pandemic is now unblocked of the raised objections regarding payments and their link with maintaining rule of law. Hungary and Poland, the multi-annual financial framework, or the pandemic recovery fund, known as Next Generation EU. Post months of tensions, the compromise tabled by Berlin was accepted by Hungary’s and Poland’s prime ministers, Viktor Orbán and Mateusz Morawiecki, respectively, during a summit in Brussels.

Charles Michel, European Council President tweeted, “Now we can start with the implementation and build back our economies. Our landmark recovery package will drive forward our green and digital transitions.” 

Poland and Hungary had said that a “rule of law” condition on funds distribution which is designed to block corruption, was legally unclear and vague and could come back to bite Warsaw and Budapest on the back as a punishment over recent rows and differences ranging from issues like migration to laws regarding treatment of LGBTQI+ communities. The plan was finally backed by the two countries after addition of a text assuring that conditions would only be applicable to future spending was added. 

Furthermore, the tool legality will be ruled by the European court of justice, if challenged. The EU’s supreme court will place its judgement before commission publishes guidelines regarding triggering mechanism. This will delay clause implementation beyond 2022 – the year when Orban is due for national elections. 

The bloc’s remaining 25 member states had warned Poland and Hungary of going ahead with recovery fund agreement if they continued to block it. Many countries, including Sweden and Netherlands had insisted on keeping the clause conditions as such, arguing that they could not and should not ignore poor governance anymore. 

The EU had agreed in July on the €1.1tn budget for 2021-2027, and further €750bn as coronavirus stimulus fund. But the package required a unanimous support by all EU bloc members. 

Barnier Braves Corona Virus To Make Physical Appearance In UK Over EU Stalemate
Europe

Barnier Braves Corona Virus To Make Physical Appearance In UK Over EU Stalemate

Barnier Braves Corona Virus: Michael Barnier had to make a personal visit to the United Kingdom to ensure the stalemate between the European Union and UK can be broken down. 

Bariner is making a personal appearance because it has become imperative that a conclusive solution comes to the Brexit deal where EU seems to be the losing out the most. 

The UK post Brexit transition period will come to an end in January 2021. Before that, both sides would need to come to an understanding that their trade is not adversely affected with Britain moving out of the European Union. 

Despite a team member in Bariner’s team showing a positive Covid-19 result, Barnier has decided to make a personal visit to ensure he can speed up  things along with his strategy of ‘patience and determination’.

While the world has been forced to shift to the virtual mode of diplomacy, there is no replacement for personal conversations and physical negotiations.  In response to Barnier’s brave move, the British counterpart David Frost has promised to do his utmost to ensure that some kind of movement is seen in the post Brexit situation. 

However, the stalemate seems to have come in the first place when we refer to the need to respect ‘UK’s sovereignty’. Bone of contention lay over fishing waters and a regime for subsidising businesses between Britain and the EU. 

Britain is definitely not looking at a small share into the fishing catch that EU partners have enjoyed for decades. Further, EU will have to concede with a certain compromise- do away with its insistence on common competition regulations and a tough means of policing them. Britain knows it can squeeze the EU as most of its trade is dependent on British exports; but then Britain has been smart to open up its arms to other partners like Japan and Australia. 

The UK left the EU on 31 January, but it is continuing to follow the bloc’s rules until the end of the year as part of an 11-month transition period.

If a trade deal is not agreed by then, trading between the two will default to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

The EU and UK can keep negotiating if they want to after this, but the two sides would face import taxes on goods traded between them.

The UK would have no access to the EU’s energy market, and no agreement on police and judicial co-operation.

Brexit deal on verge of being finalised as deadline nears
Europe

Brexit deal on verge of being finalised as deadline nears

Brexit deal: EU and UK negotiators have finalised a possible Brexit deal with talks on key issues still underway

EU and UK negotiators have indicated that a trade and security agreement is close to being finalised after marathon talks over a Brexit deal. As per media reports, both sides have managed to reach a breakthrough by finalising as much as 95 percent of the EU-UK free trade deal. After the Coronavirus pandemic 

However, the risk of a no-deal Brexit is still looming upon the two sides as negotiations on some key issues are not showing necessary progress. Amid the prevailing Coronavirus scare, much of the negotiations are being conducted virtually.

Reportedly, Ilze Juhansone, senior-most official of the European Commission, has told Brussels representatives that talks on the majority of the 11 key negotiation issues are progressing with few points remaining for discussion.

Addressing a news briefing on Friday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the progress made during this week’s talks even after the Coronavirus pandemic halted the process. She further added that there are still some metres to the finish line since a lot of work is still left to do in the deal. 

“Within the frame of the level playing field, progress, for example, has been made on the question of state aid, but there are still quite some metres to the finish line so there’s still a lot of work to do,” she said. 

As per a Daily Express report, some progress has also been made on the contentious issue of EU’s access to UK fishing waters and a mechanism to prevent distortion of trading through undercutting standards. However, Downing Street is standing its ground, insisting Brussels to change its stance in the debate over fishing rights and state aid in a bid to deal the deal. At the same time, Brussels has also informed that the progress is going slowly to reach a deal before the year end when the transition period will come to an end. It will also slow down the ratification process of a potential agreement and can lead to extending the negotiations to December. 

It is also likely that all member states not be able scrutinise the 600-page document or even translate the treaty into all 24 official languages of the bloc. France has called for a discussion on legal aspects of the deal to approve the document.

Due to these concerns, EU officials are reportedly working on emergency steps to approve a Brexit trade deal that will be acceptable to both sides. Meanwhile, chief negotiators Michel Barnier and Lord Frost are expected to carry on with the negotiations in the coming days in a bid to draw a conclusive agreement. 

No-Brexit deal concerns rise as transition period nears end
Europe

No-Brexit deal concerns rise as transition period nears end

No Brexit deal: Concerns over a no-Brexit deal increase as talks between EU and UK officials are dragging on 

Officials from both the European Union and the United Kingdom have expressed concerns over finalising a Brexit divorce deal, noting that the coming week is particularly crucial with less than 50 days left for the transition period to end. 

In the coming days, chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier will try to bridge their differences as pressure over a Brexit agreement looms on. As talks with the European Union are dragging on, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing increased pressure as he faces a tricky time for his leadership. Amid this crucial week, Johnson is self-isolating at his official residency after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. 

Negotiators from the UK and the EU are gathering in Brussels this week for more talks to find a solution to differences over fishing rights, governance and competition rules in their future deal. A number of informal deadlines for a trade agreement have already passed. Experts suggest that if these differences are not bridged by the end of this year, no trade agreement will be formalised which will eventually result in higher costs for exporters on both sides.

Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost on Sunday took to Twitter, saying that some progress has been made in a positive direction in recent days.

While Brussels officials are asserting that the UK Prime Minister must take the first step in reaching an agreement, their British counterparts are dismissing the stance. According to a report by The Guardian, senior officials have stated that Prime Minister Johnson is determined not to compromise over Britain’s terms for exiting the European Union.

The UK government is also fearing a power struggle after one of Boris Johnson’s closest aides, Lee Cain, announced his resignation as the Director of Communications last week. Dominic Cummings, another high-profile aide of the British PM, also left Downing Street on Saturday amid the power struggle. Both Mr Cummings and Mr Cain have been instrumental to the Brexit outcome as they worked with Johnson in the Vote Leave campaign during the 2016 European Union (EU) referendum.

It has been almost five years since the Brexit referendum campaign began and Britain and the EU negotiators have yet not worked out a deal to operate the nearly $1 billion in trade per year. Meanwhile, Ireland has said that there are around 7-10 days to figure out a way to unlock a trade agreement even as a senior EU official asserted that it may be too late to put a deal into force.

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