between Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, a “frank” discussion but without result

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on December 10.

Perhaps Ursula von der Leyen wanted to show Boris Johnson that Europe, even without the British, can have a sense of humor. While Brussels and London have been struggling for months on the issue of fishing and access to British waters, the President of the Commission, who received the Prime Minister for dinner on Wednesday 9 December, had planned a menu based on seafood, scallops as a starter, then steamed turbot. We do not know from which maritime space they came … but in any case that did not allow the two leaders to find common ground. Far from it ! Ursula von der Leyen and Boris Johnson did not even manage to make a joint statement after a meeting that lasted more than three hours.

Ursula von der Leyen observed that the “Positions remain distant”. And called Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator of the Europeans, and his British counterpart, David Frost, who were also attending the dinner, to meet “Immediately to try to resolve the difficulties”. She promised a “Decision by the end of the weekend”. Downing Street spoke of a discussion “Frank” and the need for “Firm decision” before Sunday. “Very large differences remain and we do not know if they can be overcome”, even added a British official.

Read also Brexit: “A” no deal “would be a failure for Boris Johnson, for the European Commission, and for Angela Merkel”

So there are four days left – if that timetable is respected, which in the history of Brexit is largely questionable – in London and Brussels to reach an agreement. Or act a “no deal”. Which would mean that from 1er January 2021, trade between the Union and the United Kingdom would be subject to the taxes provided for by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which would therefore be added to the additional costs generated by the implementation of customs controls when the British will have left the European internal market. Essentially relatively low, taxes can be very high for certain agri-food products, automobiles or pharmaceuticals.

Emergency plan in the event of a “no deal”

To show that it is now preparing for all scenarios, the European Commission was to propose, as of Thursday morning, an emergency plan which would apply in the event of a “no deal” and would make it possible to avoid a sudden disruption in transport. , in particular, at 1er January 2021.

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