EC Head Rules Out Extended Trade Negotiations with London

There are no legal prerequisites for extending negotiations with the UK on a trade agreement, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview with Handelsblatt.

“I don’t see any legal grounds for this,” she said, answering a question about a possibility of prolonging negotiations in the fall. “The deadline for applying for an extension expires at the end of June. Therefore, it is clear that the UK will leave the single market on December 31,” she added.

She also ruled out the option where the EU and the UK could agree on the details of the agreement after October. “For us, this is unthinkable and would require a longer stay in the United Kingdom in a single market. Prime Minister (of the UK Boris) Johnson categorically ruled it out,” said von der Leyen.

The UK left the EU on January 31. The transition period will last until the end of this year. At this time, EU rules continue to apply to the country, but it does not participate in the decision-making process in the union and continues to make contributions to the common EU budget. However, such a transition period, for example, makes it possible to maintain trade relations in the same format. At the end of the transition, the union rules will no longer apply to Britain.

In order to avoid interruptions and difficulties in organizing relations between the country and the union in various fields, including trade, their representatives must agree on specific conditions for a future partnership. However, no significant progress was achieved in them for several months of negotiations. At the same time, final agreements must be reached in a very short time, because they will require certain approvals by the national authorities.

The European Union began to prepare for the “hard” Brexit long before the country’s separation from the union; negotiations on the terms of this “divorce” were also difficult. The Brexit date was even postponed to avoid serious problems in organizing relations between Britain and the EU after it. Then the parties agreed on the necessary issues and the country’s exit from the EU itself did not become “hard”. However, at the end of the transition period, the severance of the relationship still runs particular risks.


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