The EU considers a last option to avoid a total break with London

Correspondent in Brussels

Updated:18/10/2020 01:04h

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It had been said that the month of October should be the crucial point to be able to establish reasonable rules of coexistence between the United Kingdom and Europe, that any agreement should be ready before these dates in which we are so that there is time for ratification in national parliaments. The date has arrived and the European Council of last Thursday has served neither more than to reaffirm the finding that the talks are completely stalled.

However, despite the fact that London has more or less said that it is not worth trying and that they could very well save the trip, the team at European negotiator Michel Barnier He plans to travel to London as soon as possible, if possible tomorrow, to continue trying to unblock the situation. The steps that the members of the European Council have planned to try to get out of this situation have not been explained, precisely because they are part of the same negotiation and like all good poker players they will not show the cards until the moment it is necessary. The discussion was so secret that the President of the Council, Charles Michel, demanded the leaders of the Twenty-seven to enter the room without phones or tablets, to avoid interested leaks that could spoil their strategy.

“Tunnel mode”

However, according to the few confidences that have emerged from that meeting, in fact, there is only one possibility and that is that the negotiating teams met in “tunnel mode” which is something that has not happened so far in more than 4 years of discussions, despite the fact that graphically it seems the most appropriate considering that a tunnel under the English Channel will be the only thing that will unite the EU with its former partner. In diplomatic terms, it is an exercise in which the negotiators put the entire ppending issues and they try to seek a compromise without consulting their respective governments before taking each step. Out of the tunnel comes, in case of success, a global agreement, a closed package that necessarily contains things that both wanted to avoid or achieve, but which they are then obliged to assume as the price of the agreement.

A diplomatic source from a European country, which is among those most affected by Brexit, announced that this option to put negotiators in “tunnel mode” is in the minds of the leaders and “would not be ruled out at a not too distant moment. ».

Johnson’s cavalier but seemingly non-definitive reaction to the Brussels meeting leaves little room for hope and experts believe that if there is an option to avoid that traumatic disconnect on January 1, it is to take the negotiation into the tunnel for a couple of weeks. . And then let the leaders decide if they prefer a deal with many fringes or risk going to a no-deal.

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