The clock is ticking, time is running out, it is five to twelve. The language to describe the Brexit negotiations has many words to say that the pressure is high. On December 31, the British left the European Union with or without a deal. And so again, these are crucial days, weeks and hours, because the treaty still has to be approved by the heads of government and the European Parliament must also agree to it before then.
Next week, the 27 EU leaders will meet in Brussels for a physical summit. They want to be able to look each other in the eye, because there are many problems that need to be solved. Brexit is one of them.
Since Prime Minister Johnson brought things to a head in October by threatening to leave the European Union without a deal, the negotiations have become quiet. The staff of the British chief negotiator Frost and the EU envoy Michel Barnier mainly wrote many legal texts. Agreements in which the divorce was legally regulated in all kinds of areas.
Trust is good, but legislation is better.
But there are three areas where little progress is being made. The fishing waters, the rules that should be the same for companies in the European Union as in the United Kingdom and the question of what measures you can take to punish the other if the rules are broken.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to be quite creative when it comes to the three tricky topics, she said. “But we do need rules. Trust is good, but legislation is better.”
These are decisive days, or so it sounds in Brussels. Deadlines are again being discussed. The first is that of the government leaders next week. In itself, that is a flexible deadline, as leaders can even approve an agreement on December 31. The European Parliament, which is less flexible, would prefer to discuss the agreement in the last meeting week (mid-December) of this year. The negotiation text must then be translated into all EU languages, so there must be texts during the Sinterklaas weekend.
In the meantime, an extra meeting of parliament during the Christmas recess is being taken into account. Even approval (with retroactive effect) after 1 January is possible.
Fears that no agreement will ultimately be reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union is growing. The Netherlands wants the European Commission to get rid of the emergency plans, because without an agreement it will become chaos on 1 January, with freight traffic jammed and aircraft no longer able to land in London or the European capitals.
Of the three disputes between the EU and the United Kingdom, the fishing areas are the most fraught. The European fishing countries (located on the North Sea) want to continue to have access to British waters. France stands for its fishermen and this weekend the Flemish minister Crevits also announced that Belgian fishermen must keep access to British waters.
And that is absolutely non-negotiable for the British. For many Brexit supporters, regaining control of British waters is a symbol of the new independence. According to media reports, Barnier has made an offer to return 15 to 18 percent of the fishing rights, while the British reportedly want the EU to give up 80 percent of the rights. A big gap to bridge.
Below is an overview of how Brexit will change the distribution of fishing waters. The text continues below the images.
Boris Johnson has repeated several times that in his eyes the British have a ‘bright future’ without a deal. Unlike his predecessor Theresa May, he wants to make it clear to the EU that he is not afraid of the dreaded no-deal scenario.
In addition, Johnson wants a relatively thin trade agreement with the EU. “There is still a good chance of a deal,” Agriculture Secretary George Eustice told Sky News. “But then it has to be done this week. Time is running out.”
Irish Foreign Secretary Coveney blamed this time pressure on the British. “The British have been given the opportunity to extend this transition period, but they have not seized that opportunity. I also think a deal is possible. The consequences of this. no deal are precious. There is every reason to get out. “