Brexit is back on the negotiating table. While London and Brussels met on Tuesday to discuss modalities again, it seems that the project is still at a standstill, with no prospect of agreement. Indeed, Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, seems determined to make no concessions to the European Union… and even seems to be deliberately dragging out sensitive issues.
Will Brexit reach a deal? Nothing is less certain when we look at yesterday’s negotiations. The stumbling blocks between London and the rest of the E.U. seem unresolved.
At issue is the stance of Boris Johnson, who seems to be playing for time and dragging out the talks without making any concessions.
And there are many areas of disagreement: starting with the possible extension of the current transition period. It was in fact decided that the United Kingdom would have the year 2020 to make the switch to Brexit.
But Covid-19 clearly undermined this period, forcing governments to focus on the coronavirus health crisis, rather than on the future terms of Brexit. As a result, European negotiator Michel Barnier, tried on Tuesday to convince the British government to consider an extension of the current transition period, which is currently set to run until 31 December.
The proposal was rejected out of hand by Boris Johnson, who was suspected of deliberately stalling the talks. The latter seems to display objectives diametrically opposed to those of the European Union… which raises the hypothesis of a no-deal in the long term.
Same position on the issues of the European internal market and the customs union: Michel Barnier has urged Great Britain to clarify its position on the issue… A thorny subject, which seems for the moment to be unsuccessful.
Many political analysts tend to believe that Boris Johnson will refuse any compromise that might affect British sovereignty. And some would even assume that the economic damage of the coronavirus could be used to conceal the damage of a possible Brexit without an agreement.
Faced with the current somewhat disarming situation, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland has called for “intensified preparations” in the event of a lack of agreement.
The latter intends to anticipate a potentially disastrous situation, which will impact not only on his own economy but also on that of Northern Ireland.
The UK therefore still has until 31 December 2020 to work out its future relationship with Europe… otherwise trade between London and the EU will be severely impacted.
In the event of a no-deal, trade between Ireland and the UK will be governed by the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This would be a catastrophic situation, generating new trade barriers and causing significant costs for importing companies on both sides and delays at the border.