EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sees important progress in the negotiations with Great Britain on a trade pact for the period after Brexit.
“After difficult weeks with very, very slow progress, we are now seeing more progress, more movement on important points, that’s good,” said von der Leyen in Brussels on Friday. But there is great time pressure. “There are still a few meters to go to the finish line.”
A British government spokesman said that an agreement should be reached as soon as possible. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had also often emphasized that one was well prepared for a “no deal”.
The desired free trade agreement should come into force on January 1st. Then the transition phase after Britain’s exit from the EU will end, and without a treaty there is a risk of a hard economic break. Because an agreement still has to be ratified, there are actually only a few days left for an agreement.
The European Parliament is even considering a special session after Christmas. The German press agency learned from parliamentary circles that the possible date is December 28th. The contract negotiations with London are already so delayed that the regular plenary session from December 14th to 17th can hardly be reached. Should a breakthrough succeed, weeks will be needed for the legal examination as well as for the parliamentary advice and the translation into all 23 official EU languages. For a timely translation, the text should be available on Monday (November 23).
Most recently, the negotiators had to interrupt their direct meetings because of a corona case. As a precaution, they are now continuing their negotiations by switching, even over the weekend.
EU negotiators also briefed EU states on Friday. An EU diplomat said afterwards: “There has been tangible progress in a number of areas, but disagreements on key issues such as competitive conditions, arbitration rules and fisheries are getting very big slowly closed. ”There was growing concern that the talks would not progress quickly enough. “Nonetheless, there is hope that the negotiations can be concluded quickly once the necessary political decisions have been made in London.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 201120-99-407663 / 2