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Brexit: Time could have already run out

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Credit: Belga

Even if the EU and the UK can reach an agreement on Brexit, there is every chance there might not be enough time, the European Commission announced.

The Commission said in a press release that it would “continue to do its utmost to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with the UK,” but has put forward contingency measures as the end of the year, and with it the end of the transition period, inches closer.

There is no guarantee that if and when an agreement is found it can enter into force on time,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet announcing the measures.

“The aim of these contingency measures is to cater for the period during which there is no agreement in place. If no agreement enters into application, they will end after a fixed period,” the Commission explained.

The measures zero in on air and road connectivity, aviation safety and fisheries.

More specifically, the EU wants “to ensure the provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU for 6 months, provided the UK ensures the same,” as well as “that various safety certificates for products can continue to be used in EU aircraft without disruption, thereby avoiding the grounding of EU aircraft.”

They also want to guarantee “basic connectivity” for road freight and passengers for half a year, again, “provided the UK assures the same to EU hauliers.”

Finally, the measures include “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” so EU and UK vessels can have access to each other’s waters after the transition period.

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“Our responsibility is to be prepared for all eventualities, including not having a deal in place with the UK on 1 January 2021,” said von der Leyen. “That is why we are coming forward with these measures today.”

The positions of the EU and UK “remain far apart,” von der Leyen said after meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday, putting a Sunday deadline for an agreement.

If the EU and the UK do not reach a post-Brexit trade agreement, World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules will apply between them, including high tariffs and extensive customs controls.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

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