German Chancellor today takes over the seat of the EU’s rotating presidency, and she’s already made her presence felt. Mrs Merkel wants Boris Johnson to move to a more flexible position in these trade negotiations, saying doing so would mean Merkel had a better chance of negotiating any agreed deal with fellow EU member states.
With Merkel in the top Job for six months, these Brexit negotiations are said to be one of her top priorities. Mrs Merkel’s ambassador in Brussels said: “We’ve got two mega issues to deal with, and neither of them can be postponed.”
Michael Clauss: “Either the EU will succeed in negotiating a treaty that will shape relations with the UK in a good way, or we will have a rough landing on January 1, 2021, which would be very similar to hard Brexit.
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“But it always takes two to tango… We’ll know in a few weeks’ time whether we can make progress at the negotiating table – or whether ideology will triumph.”
The UK and EU have had five rounds of negotiations, and each round has been ground down to a halt due to there being significant disagreements from both sides. The EU wants the UK to sign up to a “Level Playing Field”, this would make the UK uncompetitive after leaving the bloc which Boris and his team have outright rejected, Labelling it “totally unacceptable”.
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On fisheries, the EU wants unfettered access and same quotas as it currently stands under the common fisheries policy. In return, the UK would have access to EU markets to sell their fish. Again Boris has stood firm saying the UK will be regaining its sovereign waters once we are out of the EU, we will not be giving them away. If anyone wants to fish in UK waters, then it will be under UK rules and annual quotas. David Frost also said there wasn’t any precedent in regards to giving away sovereign waters in return for access into a third entities market.
With the EU not backing down from its red lines, Mr Claus’s said: “The 27 won’t accept anything that would bring unfair competition into our house. “Our task is to keep the 27 together. Michel Barnier is negotiating; his mandate allows sufficient flexibility.”
Barnier has also stated that the UK needs to take a more realistic approach in these intense talks. Merkel has also spoken about negotiations going all the way to November, but not beyond. That’s because any deal would need to be ratified by other member states, giving time to get the agreement passed before the end of the transition period.
Mr Clauss said: “At the end of July, we will take stock again and see where we stand.
“Our expectation was that these negotiations would not start before the beginning of September.
“A deal has to be ready within a few weeks or by the European Council in mid-October, at the end of October at the latest. “We can’t negotiate longer, as an agreement would still have to be ratified.”
With Britain ruling out any extension to the transition period, Britain will leave the EU with either Deal or No Deal. Mr Barnier yesterday said: “We now know that the transition period will not be extended. “The EU was open to an extension, but the UK refused. It is the UK’s choice.” Trade talks continue…