No matter how much they negotiate, the Europeans and the British have still not been able to agree on the nature of their future trade relationship. However, in ten days, the 1er January 2021, the United Kingdom, which officially divorced its former partners on 1er February, will sever its last ties with the European Union and will no longer be part of the European internal market. If, by that date, London and Brussels have not reached an agreement on the conditions of a free trade agreement, without quotas or customs duties, their trade will be subject to World Trade Organization taxes ( WTO), which will be added to the additional costs relating to the return of border controls.
“The gaps between the United Kingdom and Europe remain significant, we cannot continue like that”, judge a diplomat. Before continuing: the Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the Twenty-Seven, “Does not want to give up. [Sa présidente] Ursula Von der Leyen likes to negotiate. She wants to go all the way, so that we can’t blame her for not having tried. But, in reality, the European offers have already gone very far, the United Kingdom does not want them, I do not see what common ground could exist ”.
Monday, Boris Johnson said for his part that “The position is unchanged”. He did call Emmanuel Macron, but his conversation with the French president remained confined to Covid-19. “The negotiations are taking place in Brussels, as they should”, explains the British Prime Minister. It just reiterates its demands: “The UK needs to control its own laws completely, and its fishing waters. “ As usual, he ensures that the “no deal” does not scare him, the conditions of the WTO being “Much more than satisfactory”.
A postponement not possible
Behind this apparent blockage, however, significant progress has been made on the issue of competitive conditions, even if the equation seemed a priori difficult to resolve: Europeans do not want to take the risk of opening their market to a competitor if whose social, environmental or state aid rules would differ widely from others, when the British refuse to link their economic destiny to that of Brussels in any way, since they have rightly chosen the Brexit to regain their sovereignty.
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