There is more movement in the negotiations on a Brexit trade pact – but is the pace enough? Even if many detailed questions have been clarified, there are still important issues, including fishing.
By Ralph Sina, ARD-Studio Brussels
A last-minute deal between Brussels and London, between the EU and the United Kingdom on the future relationship is not ruled out: EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen speaks of progress and more movement. “When it comes to important issues, what is good,” stressed the Commission President in Brussels at the end of last week.
For example, the important question is how to prevent the UK from exporting highly subsidized products to the EU internal market at dumping prices from next January. It is now becoming apparent that the British side is ready to adhere to the EU subsidy regulations. The United Kingdom also wants to maintain the current EU environment, climate protection and occupational health and safety regulations.
However, it is still unclear which authority decides whether the British actually adhere to the rules of the internal market and what a yellow or red card looks like if standards are violated.
Fishing still unexplained
The question of whether and how much fish EU trawlers may continue to catch in British territorial waters is also unresolved, although it is economically third-rate but emotionally charged. For example, 100 percent of French herring comes from British waters because their depth is particularly popular with herring. “So there is still a lot to be done,” stressed Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
And as long as there is no agreement on the important points of contention, it does not count that the existing 600-page draft contract is now in agreement on many details.
EU driving licenses should also be valid in the UK
Driving licenses from EU member states should continue to be valid in the UK, trucks and cars with EU license plates should continue to be allowed to drive on UK roads and pilot licenses should be mutually recognized for flights between airports in the EU and Great Britain.
What is certain is that, even in the event of a deal, freight forwarders in the EU must obtain a digital access permit for the county of Kent, because Dover is the largest cargo handling port in the UK. Because whether deal or no-deal: From January 1st, an external border will separate the EU from the third country Great Britain. From 2021 onwards, it will no longer be as simple as it was before.
Digging should be prevented
But so that the EU’s external border does not become a ditch with the United Kingdom, the EU Commission is very interested in a future contract. The teams of experts worked day and night on the contract text, emphasizes von der Leyen. But a Covid case in the Barnier team caused a negotiation delay last week.
No final version of the text is in sight yet, although the EU Parliament expects an agreement by the beginning of this week at the latest. France and Italy are therefore worried that there will be enough time to translate the treaty into the EU’s 24 official languages. You are against using the English version as the basis for the ratification process.
Special session of the EU Parliament at the end of December?
There is already talk in Brussels of convening a special session of the EU Parliament on December 28th to put the treaty to a vote. France, Belgium and the Netherlands have asked the EU Commission to intensify their preparations in the event of a no-deal.
Credit insurer: Germany would be hard hit by Brexit
In a study on the consequences of an unregulated Brexit, the credit insurer Euler Hermes comes to the conclusion that a hard Brexit could cost the EU 33 billion euros in annual export revenues. According to this study, the Federal Republic of Germany would be particularly affected: Due to the threat of tariffs and higher costs for handling goods at the borders, German exports could decline by up to 8.2 billion euros.
In the past few years, German companies exported goods worth around 79 billion euros to Great Britain every year, thereby securing around 750,000 jobs in Germany.