New Brexit negotiations with the EU: High level of acting

In the Brexit negotiations, the climax comes at the end. It is a production with distributed roles.

Brexit opponents demonstrate in London during negotiations on Friday Foto: Henry Nicholls/reuters

How often has you heard it: “Time is of the essence” is always emphasized when a new round of Brexit negotiations begins. But it is already clear that there will be no “breakthrough” this week either.

The Brexit negotiations follow the classic rules of diplomacy: the climax comes at the end. It would be detrimental for all sides to come to an agreement now – although the final Brexit is due at the end of the year. Voters would believe that their governments did not fight hard enough. There must be drama. Negotiations are expected to run until just before New Year’s Eve, garnished with night sessions, and the EU Parliament will be torn from the Christmas break to ratify the treaty at the last minute.

The content fronts have been fixed for months. It is about three issues: fishing rights, “fair competition” and how disputes are resolved. An agreement is likely on the last subject, as various arbitration procedures could be envisaged.

The crux of the matter is fair competition: The EU must prevent Great Britain from gaining export advantages by fraudulent practice by tax dumping or subsidizing companies. The British have to obey the rules – what Brexit fans don’t see is their motto “Take Back Control”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson can therefore only accommodate the EU if he has a triumph to show. So the EU pumps up the issue of fishing rights – although almost no one lives from fishing. Johnson is said to be able to claim that he personally saved the British fishing fleet.

The fact that French President Macron pretends to be the chairman of the Normandy fishermen’s association and is completely uncompromising goes well with this EU staging. The brighter the “victory” of the British will shine. For Macron and his fishermen, a few EU billions are likely to fall off to sweeten their “defeat”. Nice too.

But who knows. The future is fundamentally uncertain, as a famous Brit named Keynes once stated.


Brexit and EU: “No Deal” is possible

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.

The British Prime Minister has already left the EU. Will there be a deal now? Foto: Aaron Chown/Wire/dpa

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.