British citizens voted to remove their country from the European Union on June 23, 2016. Almost four and a half years later, his government still does not agree with the European Union the treaty that will regulate the relationship after his final departure, which will take place on December 31.
(In context: Brussels and London race against time for a post-Brexit deal)
With just over five business weeks before the Christmas break, the negotiations remain blocked in the most conflictive points: fishing, non-unfair competition and governance of the future agreement before the distrust that the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson generates in Europeans.
The situation is increasingly pressing. In the remainder of November and the month of December, an agreement must be closed while the parties maintain red lines that seem impossible to move.
If successful, it would be necessary to convert the drafts of the negotiation (which already exceed 600 pages) into an international treaty and translate it into the 24 official languages of the European Union.
These texts should then be ratified by the European and British Parliament. If it also includes agreements on national and non-European competition policies, it should also be approved by the 27 national parliaments of the Member States of the European Union and even by some regional ones, like the three of the Belgian regions because they have international trade competences.
(You may be interested: Without an EU change there will be no post-Brexit agreement: Boris Johnson)
To further complicate the situation this Thursday it was learned that a person from the team of the European negotiator Michel Barnier tested positive for covid-19, so the negotiations will have to continue electronically.
Given the rush of deadlines, several governments (European diplomatic sources confirmed that at least the French, Belgian and Dutch) asked the President of the European Commission, Úrsula Von der Leyen, on Thursday, to activate the contingency plans that the The executive arm of the European Union had prepared last year for the eventuality that Brexit would finally be made without agreements.
The same sources explained that those documents could begin to be published next week, especially if Von der Leyen decides that the negotiation has no prospect of prospering.
(Read also: Johnson’s most powerful advisor to leave Downing Street at year’s end)
Fishing remains one of the great conflicts because although economically it is not even 1% of British GDP, politically it is a toxic issue because the fishing regions of southern England voted en masse in favor of Brexit.
These areas are fishing grounds for conservative votes and the current rulers promised them that they should no longer share their waters with European vessels but could continue to sell their catch on the mainland’s fish markets. And everything cannot be.
To break the block in fishing, European negotiator Michel Barnier offers the British to participate in the European energy market, twice as profitable as the fishing market. In return, they must allow European fishing vessels to continue fishing in their waters. The opposite, prohibiting them from returning to English waters, would practically open the door for countries such as France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands or Denmark to veto the agreement.
Time is running out. On December 31, the transitional period will end, this year of purgatory that Brussels and London gave each other to move from marriage to divorce. The calendar is so tight that many MEPs wonder if they will have to vote on an eventual agreement without having read it.
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