A post-Brexit trade deal is up to the EU, says Boris Johnson

A post-Brexit trade deal is up to the EU, says Boris Johnson
Credit: Belga

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that it was up to Europeans to “use common sense” to reach a post-Brexit trade agreement with the United Kingdom, in order to avoid a “no deal” on 1 January.

In an interview with the BBC, the Conservative leader said there was “every chance to get a deal”, adding that “It’s up to our friends and partners to be commonsensical.”

“I hope that we get a deal, it’s up to our friends,” he added. “They’ve done a deal with Canada of a kind that we want, why shouldn’t they do it with us?”

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The UK left the EU on 31 January, but it continues to apply EU rules until 31 December.

If no agreement is reached by that date, an abrupt disruption in trade would further undermine economies already weakened by the coronavirus pandemic. The talks are taking place against a particularly tight schedule: Johnson has set 15 October, the day of an EU summit in Brussels, as the date for the agreement. The Europeans have given themselves until the end of October.

After a ninth round of talks this week, British negotiator David Frost warned Friday that concessions from Brussels would be needed to reach a compromise, especially on fisheries and fair competition.

“I am concerned that there is now so little time left to resolve these issues before the European Council on 15 October,” the deadline set by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Frost said in a statement.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Johnson will hold talks on Saturday to take stock of the post-Brexit negotiations and consider the next steps, the Commission’s chief spokesperson announced on Friday.

This meeting comes just days after the European Commission announced that it was opening infringement proceedings against the UK for failing to comply with the terms of the withdrawal agreement signed by both parties, which has the status of an international treaty.

“What we see from the British side is weakness verging on desperation,” commented Roger Casale, a former British MP and Secretary-General of the citizen rights NGO New Europeans.

“The only person who can help Boris Johnson out of the hole he has dug for himself now is not Ursula Von den Leyen but rather Angela Merkel. I expect she will try to do so, if only because she will well understand that Boris Johnson’s days in Downing Street are numbered.”

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times


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