With just 36 days left in termination of UK’s transition period, the pressure started mounting on both the sides to finalise a deal. Despite the pressure, things didn’t seem to be moving towards finalisation and what followed was the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier threat to David Frost that he might pull out of the Brexit negotiations. Barnier told his counterpart that unless UK changed its approach in the ongoing negotiations in the next 48 hours, there might be a no deal between two sides.
Barnier pointed out that it was pointless to take negotiations further unless Britain was was ready to agree and compromise on the key outstanding issues. Most of the legalities were complete but what was left was consensus over three key issues – fishing, standards and domestic subsidies, and dispute resolution.
Britain has been pushing for annual negotiation for allowing fishing in its territorial waters, and also proposed a “zonal attachment” system which divides fish species between the two sides as per to where the fish reside rather than the current division on the basis of fixed fishing patterns. Where as EU has been fighting against both annual negotiations and zonal attachment for it wants an amount of ‘certainty’ for its fishing community.
Besides, both the sides have been struggling with how to decide on the future course of their relationship, for they both agreed on the need to “uphold the common high standards at the end of the transition period in the areas of state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environment, climate change and relevant tax matters”. But the matter is still hanging as the two have not found a common ground on how to define their current common high standards.
Brexiters have been wishing for a special trade and security deal with EU but all they believe EU has been offering is a regular trade deal wherein latter has more advantage over the former. Despite all the difference, what EU-Britain needs the most is a common resolution system to decide their disputes.
On Wednesday, while giving a speech in the European Parliament, the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the EU was open to be “creative” in order to get a deal with the UK but emphasised that an agreement was difficult with “very little time ahead of us”. Barnier would be heading for London on Friday for the last round of negotiations with the UK.
With regarding to the deal entering its last leg, EU president said, “These are decisive days for negotiations with the United Kingdom. But, frankly, I cannot tell you today if in the end, there will be a deal.”
“We will do all in our power to reach an agreement. We’re ready to be creative,” she said. “But we are not ready to put into question the integrity of the single market, the main safeguard for European prosperity and wealth.”
Von der Leyen said legal texts on judicial and social security coordination, trade in goods and services and transport were almost finalised. “However, there’s still three issues that can make the difference between a deal and no deal,” she added.