The summit in Brussels does not bring about an agreement in the trade dispute with Great Britain. Although the ultimatum is running out, negotiations should continue.
BRUSSELS taz | Nine months after Brexit, Great Britain is preparing for a “no deal” and thus a hard break in the trade dispute with the EU. There can only be an agreement if the EU changes its stance “fundamentally”, said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London on Friday. However, he did not slam the door for talks, despite a British ultimatum expired on October 15.
The EU is also trying to find a deal. “As planned, our negotiating team will go to London next week to intensify the negotiations,” wrote Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Twitter on Friday. “The EU is still working on a deal, but not at any price.” Chancellor Angela Merkel made a similar statement at the EU summit in Brussels.
“An agreement would be in the interests of both sides,” said Merkel after the two-day summit meeting. “Time is of the essence here, too.” The 27 heads of state and government had previously tried to push the ball into the British field. After a tightly screened debate, they called on London to “take the necessary steps to enable an agreement”.
London reacted coldly. On Thursday evening, the British chief negotiator, David Frost, criticized the EU for misappropriating the tone and not offering more intensive negotiations. This raised concerns in Brussels that Britain could break off talks on Friday. It didn’t come to that.
Several times taken by surprise
“Come here, come to us – if there are fundamental changes in your position,” said the British Prime Minister, who has taken the EU by surprise several times with changes of position and ultimatums. The EU summit was not “very encouraging”. If the EU does not change its position, it will probably not be possible to reach an agreement.
Three areas in particular are still disputed. The EU calls for a “level playing field” in tax, wage and environmental policy, ie fair competition without dumping. Great Britain wants to break away from the EU rules and also make aid for Northern Ireland possible. There is also a dispute over who would monitor a trade deal and punish violations. In addition, both sides are fighting over fishing.
France in particular is demanding safe access to British fishing grounds. Head of State Emmanuel Macron rejected the impression that he could let a deal fail for that reason alone. “We argue about everything,” said Macron after the summit in Brussels.
But the EU leaders are not only at odds with London. There is also trouble with the European Parliament – because of the future EU budget and climate protection. Merkel refused to reopen the budget negotiated in July and to enter into negotiations with parliament. In her role as EU Council President, she also ensured that climate protection was postponed.
55 percent reduction
The Commission had proposed that the CO2– Reduce emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, instead of just 40 percent. The EU Parliament even demands 60 percent fewer emissions. However, the heads of state and government did not commit themselves at their meeting. This is a mistake, said the Green MEP Sven Giegold of the taz. “We cannot save the climate with adjournments,” he warns.
Giegold calls for a special summit so that the new EU climate law comes into force in 2020. “It is risky to wait until the next EU summit in December,” said Lutz Weischer from the Germanwatch organization. The EU risked slowing down the dynamic on climate issues.