The European Commission has published its contingency plan in the event of a no-deal Brexit following last night’s dinner meeting
Last night’s business dinner between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen ended was both said agreeing that large gaps remain between the two sides and their respective negotiations.
Both sides agreed that EU and UK negotiators have until Sunday to reach an agreement on the future trade deal following the inconclusive three-hour meeting between the blocs leaders.
How large is the gap between the two parties could be measured in the European Commission’s decision to publish their contingency plan for the event of a no-deal by Sunday.
According to reports a senior UK source described the discussion as “frank”.
“Very large gaps remain between the two sides and it’s unclear whether these can be bridged the source said the Prime Minister and Ursula von der Leyen agreed to further discussions over the next few days between their negotiating teams.”
“The Prime Minister does not want to leave any route to a possible deal untested. The Prime Minister and Ursula von der Leyen agreed that by Sunday a firm decision should be taken about the future of the talks.”
In a statement after the meeting last night, Ursula von der Leyen said, “We had a lively and interesting discussion on the state of play on outstanding issues. We understand each other’s position. They remain far apart.
“The teams should immediately reconvene to try and resolve these issues. We will come to a decision by the end of the weekend.”
“The Brussels meeting came ahead of a European Council summit tomorrow where von der Leyen is expected to debrief the leaders of 27 member countries on the negotiations.
How those negotiations will progress will depend on how EU Member States will accept any changes that von der Leyen may suggest at the debriefing.
The French are still adamant that there will not be a deal which will see their fishing industry throw to the lions and have insisted on the level-playing field.
Clement Beaune, the French Europe Minister earlier today spoke to Irish national broadcaster RTÉ,
“The negotiations still have a chance to lead to a deal”. But on fish, level-playing field “we will defend our core interests” The negotiating mandate will stay the same,” he told RTÉ’s Tony Connelly.
“We can find compromises. We can make efforts – both sides – but the key interests of the EU must be respected by the UK.
“We want to have stable access to UK waters but then we can discuss parameters, but this is absolutely fundamental.
“We need strong elements of level-playing field because if we are to grant access to the UK to our internal market, which is unknown for any trade partner, in return there has to be some compliance to key rules which make our market work.”
The possibilities of a no-deal situation are now being taken seriously by the European Commission who today released their contingency plans. The document called “Relations with the UK: Commission proposes targeted contingency measures to prepare for “possible “no-deal” scenario”.
EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicus tweeted:
“3 weeks until the end of the transition period. We are preparing for a no-deal scenario with the UK with a contingency package to mitigate significant disruptions including reciprocal access to waters for fisheries that was adopted today.”
President von der Leyen said: “Negotiations are still ongoing. However, given that the end of the transition is very near, there is no guarantee that if and when an agreement is found, it can enter into force on time. Our responsibility is to be prepared for all eventualities, including not having a deal in place with the UK on 1 January 2021. That is why we are coming forward with these measures today”.
On the issue of fisheries, the press release says of the contingency plan:
- “Fisheries: A proposal for a Regulation to create the appropriate legal framework until 31 December 2021, or until a fisheries agreement with the UK has been concluded – whichever date is earlier – for continued reciprocal access by EU and UK vessels to each other’s waters after 31 December 2020. In order to guarantee the sustainability of fisheries and in light of the importance of fisheries for the economic livelihood of many communities, it is necessary to facilitate the procedures of authorisation of fishing vessels.
The full contingency plan on fisheries can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/brexit_files/com_2020_830.pdf