The European Union and the United Kingdom have reached a historic agreement in principle for a political and economic partnership to take effect from 2021, reports Bloomberg. Details of the agreement are still being worked on, but everything indicates that the chaotic scenario of non-agreement will be avoided.
A political and economic partnership agreement is in the process of being the shoe gift sought on both sides of the Channel for this Christmas, but now it will still be necessary to wind the shoes to ensure that a final agreement is properly implemented in the short time available.
Bloomberg says, based on sources involved in the bilateral negotiation, that the European Union and the United Kingdom have already agreed on the draft of an agreement on the future relationship, which constitutes an agreement in principle for the post-Brexit period, with beginning on January 1st. At issue is a draft of about 2,000 pages that will regulate the political and commercial relationship between the two blocks.
The news agency’s information comes shortly after the Guardian advanced that a deal was about to be announced. For this morning, a meeting for Christmas Eve between the diplomatic representatives of the Member States to Brussels has been scheduled so that the ratification process can begin as soon as possible.
Thus, the 10-month process of difficult negotiation, punctuated by countless ups and downs and countless limit dates successively exceeded without an understanding being glimpsed, may be near the end.
While discussions at the technical level continue to overcome some points yet to be agreed – with fisheries and the guarantee of a level playing field in the single market -, a telephone conversation between Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is expected this afternoon. European Union, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The expectation is that an agreement will be formally announced after that call.
BBC policy editor Laura Kuenssberg wrote in the meantime that although an agreement is now closer, it has not yet been “signed or sealed”, with Britain’s degree of compliance with EU competition rules still under discussion. the level of European access to the UK’s territorial waters.
Apparently decisive for the advances achieved in the last few hours, Von der Leyen decided, who took the reins of the negotiation directly with Boris Johnson, giving greater political weight to a dialogue blocked by technical issues that could only have a political solution. The leader of the EU executive body and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom have maintained regular contact over the past 72 hours.
If an agreement is confirmed, the ratification process will have to start urgently. The European Parliament has scheduled an extraordinary plenary session for 28 December, an appointment made to prevent a delay in the discussions, as it turned out. However, time is running out and it will be difficult not only to ensure ratification (the national parliaments of the 27 Member States need to scrutinize) an eventual agreement but also to ensure that MEPs are in a position to vote on it as early as next week.
Therefore, in order to avoid a scenario called precipice, it may be necessary to find conditions so that a partnership agreement that may be formalized can be applied provisionally from next January 1, after the end of the transition period defined to give stability to bilateral relations between the British withdrawal from the Union, on 31 January, and the definition of a post-Brexit agreement.
This is because, at the start of 2021, the United Kingdom is no longer integrated into the single market and the customs union, so exchanges between the two blocks are now regulated by the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), whatever happens, would generate distortions with the application of customs tariffs and customs controls.
This would necessarily result in stockouts and, for example, endless lines of trucks like those seen in recent days due to the blockade imposed by several European countries on the transport of goods and passengers from the United Kingdom.
Christmas helping and fishing complicating
The exhaustion caused by nearly 10 months of a troubled negotiation coupled with the proximity of Christmas and the intention of the players to spend the Christmas season without the scenario of a non-agreement hovering, also helped to the apparent loosening of the knot.
This morning, the Financial Times quoted a source from the British executive who said he believed in a deal this Wednesday, considering that “there is nothing impossible” and that, at this point, all members of the negotiation teams wanted to “go home” and spend a restful Christmas.
The issue of fisheries has been hampering above all. The United Kingdom intends to regain control over its territorial waters after 1 January and retain a significant share of the fish caught there by Community vessels and greater than that provided for in the current quota system. The European bloc wants the new system to be implemented gradually and over a long period of time, ensuring significant access to British waters. France, Denmark, and Spain are among the Member States with the greatest interest in this matter.
The other major obstacle concerns fair rules in the single market, the so-called “level playing field”. To prevent unfair competition, the Union wants the United Kingdom to be bound to monitor the European bloc’s adoption of environmental or labor rules, but London counters that this calls into question the sovereignty that the Brexit referendum sought to regain.
Source: Jornal de Negócios