“We are six weeks away from January 1, 2021 – the date of the total disconnection between the EU and the United Kingdom – and it is time to ask the European Commission to present contingency plans” because “we need to adapt them in case of not reaching an agreement, especially in the transport sector, “complained ten days ago one of the European diplomats who usually receive regular reports from the EU chief negotiator, Michel barnier. An “almost unanimous” appeal that the French politician heard again this Friday during his meeting with the 27 permanent ambassadors of the EU, just a few hours before returning to London, in what may be the last attempt to avoid the failure of negotiations of the new trade agreement with the UK.
Time is running out by leaps and bounds and European governments are beginning to fear the worst. Barnier, who has resumed public activity this Friday after a quarantine of almost ten days due to the positive for covid19 of a member of his team, has once again conveyed to the European representatives the same message as the president Ursula von der Leyen launched on Wednesday before the plenary session of the European Parliament: that today it is not possible to say whether there will be an agreement or not before December 31, that there has been progress in some important areas such as police and judicial cooperation but that the same “differences” “persist” around the three major obstacles that have kept the negotiation stuck since the beginning of the year: the fisheries agreement, governance and the so-called level playing field to ensure that there will be no British dumping once the UK fully disengages from the EU.
“We are inches from the moment of take it or leave it. I will try to find an agreement but never at the cost of the integrity of our values,” the European negotiator summarized shortly before meeting virtually with the fisheries ministers of the most affected countries and to also inform the contact group of the European Parliament that it will have to ratify the agreement in extremely fair terms that could force them to convene an extraordinary session at the end of the month if an agreement is finally reached.
“Some people ask me why we keep talking. My answer is that it is my job to do everything possible to see if the conditions for an agreement exist. It is late but an agreement is still possible and I will keep talking until it is clear that it is not. ”, Has indicated the British negotiator, David Frost, insisting on the British mantra that any agreement must fully respect the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.