EU-UK talks continue but the European Parliament rules out sitting before the new year on Brexit agreement and the UK rules out provisional application
The UK-EU trade negotiations are continuing today despite the European Parliament’s Sunday deadline having come and gone.
Fisheries is the centre of the hold-up as both sides are seeking concessions from each other which neither side will give.
EU Chief Negotiator, Michael Barnier and UK Chief Negotiator David Frost admit there are still bumps in the road as far as negotiations are concerned, and it seems no matter what road they take the same bumps appear and as the countdown days enters single figures, a deal seems less likely.
Even if a deal is struck before the ultimate deadline of 31 December, it seems more unlikely now that the deal will be passed by the EU side before January.
Sunday’s deadline from the European Parliament has passed. It was asked for in order to give the institution time to consider and approve any deal before Christmas, but this morning the European Parliament ruled out ratifying any agreement before the Dec 31 deadline as they consider there would not be enough time to scrutinise the text.
To this end David McAllister, chair of the European Parliament’s Brexit group, wrote on Twitter that the European Parliament has committed itself to doing everything it can to minimize the disruption to their citizens and businesses, and that after a meeting in the group have come to the following:
“At our extraordinary meeting of the UK Coordination Group, we thoroughly analysed the current situation and discussed possible scenarios with the European Parliament’s legal service.
“The @Europarl_EN has done its utmost to be in a position to grant consent before the end of the transition period and is committed to take any step that minimises disruptions for our citizens and businesses. Later, I will meet @EP_President to discuss the next possible steps.”
With the UK ruling out a Provisional Application and no easy way to extend the transition period it is more than ever likely that we are heading for a no-deal.
It is still unknown whether the negotiators can agree at all. Michel Barnier has offered the UK a cut of 25% of the value of EU caught fish in UK waters, whereas the UK is looking for 60%. The eight EU coastal states have rejected this deal calling it a complete ‘sell-out’ on earlier promises.
The UK wishes to keep its sovereignty and be allowed to dictate its own regulations within its own waters meaning they can decide annually who can come to fish those waters and how much they can catch. The EU says this is not viable as their fleet needs reliable long-term commitments.
However, if an agreement happens before the New Year, EU Member States may instead grant a temporary approval of the agreement so that it can enter into force on 01 January or there may be a period of a no-deal Brexit. The European Parliament can then give its consent.
If there was to be a temporary approval, Michel Barnier would have to propose a Provisional Application to the Council and then the Member States would have the sole right to grant it. Then the European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group would recommend an emergency plenary session in early January to ratify the agreement.
If there is a no-deal scenario, then the EU’s contingency plan for fisheries, aviation, road haulage, etc, would come into action.
The only issue with the EU’s contingency plan, is that it relies on the UK to cooperate and allowed continued reciprocal access to each other’s waters, something which the UK has already ruled out.
On the British side of the negotiations, it has been reported that the Westminster Parliament will sit next Wednesday, 30 December, if there is a Brexit deal before that date.