After a failure in negotiations, Boris Johnson will now step in to hold direct talks with EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen to try and find a solution as the deadline approaches.
David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator and Michael Barnier, his EU counterpart, today announced that they had not found suitable terms after a year of Brexit negotiations. Further discussions were already expected between the Prime Minister and Von der Leyen, but the reaching of this state of affairs is nonetheless worrying.
“After one week of intense negotiations in London, the two chief negotiators agreed today that the conditions for an agreement are not met, due to significant divergences on level playing field, governance and fisheries” – Barnier and Frost in joint statement.
Whilst calls from within the UK and other European leaders call for compromise, the two parties are still locked in a stalemate. The stumbling blocks were initially leaked by UK government sources after unexpected French demands disrupted the talks.
An EU source told the Guardian that despite protracted negotiations “we don’t see any breakdown or real trouble beyond the already slow grind of this negotiation.”
Johnson is expected to open conversation directly on Saturday afternoon. EU Council President, Charles Michel has stated: “it will be up to the commission to take a position, and when the time comes, and the time has not yet come, it’ll be up to the member states to take a position as well.”
Whilst Angela Merkel has called for more compromise if necessary to see the deal seen through, other EU states have already shown concern towards the compromises already made by Barnier, and may show unwilling to make more secessions.
With Michel threatening to draw a line in the sand, Johnson will hope to convince that a completed deal will result in mutual beneficiaries.
The Confederation of British Industry deputy director-general Josh Hardie and France’s European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune have stressed the significance of any further delays to the businesses and people awaiting to hear what deal is in place. Hardie states: “I find it almost impossible to believe that politicians on both sides would allow our countries to slip into no deal. The mutual interest in getting a deal has genuinely never been stronger post-pandemic or mid-pandemic.”
The pandemic has shown that when biz + govt work together the outcomes for communities are better. We must apply that same rigour to brexit preparation. All of our shoulders to the wheel will move us further and faster than us doing it separately https://t.co/7CwaGoz6LM
— Joshua Hardie (@josh_hardie) December 4, 2020
Words: William Murray | Subbing: Sam Tabahriti