Brexit: EU and UK are 'in overtime', Belgian PM De Croo warns

Brexit: EU and UK are 'in overtime', Belgian PM De Croo warns
Credit: Belga

Post-Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union are “in overtime,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Wednesday.

De Croo visited Customs offices in the port of Zeebrugge together with Finance Minister Vincent van Peteghem.

“The private sector is well-prepared, but politically there is still work to be done,” De Croo said. “We will do everything to protect our companies, but then we will have to be able to force something politically in the coming days.”

“Additional chaos on top of the Covid crisis” is the last thing our companies need, De Croo said. On Tuesday, the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium had warned of such a situation.

“A final agreement will have to come in the coming days,” De Croo said. “Otherwise, we get into a situation where there will be jams in our ports.”

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In the meantime, “we are continuing to inform our companies trading with the UK,” said Van Peteghem, adding that “many have already done what is necessary.”

Meanwhile, negotiations between the UK and the EU continue in Brussels in what appears to be the last possible stretch towards an agreement, with both sides reiterating that they are working towards a deal.

If they do not reach a deal, World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules will apply between the UK and the EU when it the country leaves the EU’s internal market and customs union as the transition phase ends. WTO rules will mean higher tariffs and extensive customs controls.

In mentioning overtime, it is not the first time De Croo uses a football metaphor, having previously referred to the country as “one single team of 11 million Belgians” in the fight against the coronavirus.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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