UK and European Union negotiating teams have made progress on several fronts in the discussion that has taken place over the past week, in particular in areas that separate the two parties to a political and economic partnership agreement, according to Bloomberg knowledgeable sources. negotiation.
These advances reinforce the possibilities of reaching a comprehensive agreement in early November, the same sources added. This greater optimism also allowed the pound to moderate losses against the dollar, with the British currency now losing less than 0.5% against the US currency, after trading with losses of around 1% over this morning. .
The two parties have already started work on drafting an agreement on competition issues (“Level playing field”) and are close to finalizing a joint document on state aid. The sources cited by Bloomberg said that progress had been made in terms of jurisdiction and legal mechanisms to enforce an eventual partnership agreement. Other sectors in which progress has been made are related to social rights, customs duties and air navigation.
In addition to guarantees of fair competition conditions and legal supervision, the fisheries sector also continues to hinder an agreement. In this sensitive issue, the European side demands to condition British access to the EU energy and transport markets to the guarantee of the EU fishing sector’s access to the territorial waters of the United Kingdom (London demands to recover full sovereignty in the management of its waters).
However, the fact that the teams led by David Frost (on the British side) and Michel Barnier (by the EU) have started preparing a common text is a sign that the negotiation blockade that has persisted for some half year.
Boris increased pressure and Barnier responded
A week ago, and after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly said that the UK would have to step up its preparations for the non-agreement scenario due to European intransigence, raising the bargaining pressure with the heightened prospect of non-agreement, Barnier took a relevant step by finally showing willingness to start designing a joint text.
It was precisely this willingness to give fresh impetus to bilateral dialogue. Next Thursday, formal negotiations will take place in Burxelas, an opportunity for negotiators to try to approximate positions, especially in the three points described above.
If concrete progress is made by 3 November, the discussion will rise to the level of Boris Johnson and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. If the circumstances are favorable, it will be up to both to close a final agreement for the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
Time is tightening, even in the context of an agreement, it will then be necessary to ratify the legal commitment by the British Parliament and by each of the national parliaments of the 27 Member States of the Union. that may come into force on January 1, 2021.
Without an agreement, one enters the so-called precipice, since the transition period started with the completion of Brexit, and which keeps the United Kingdom in the single market and in the customs union, ends on 31 December. In this case, as of January 1, trade between the two blocs would be governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which would imply increased tariffs and the need for border controls.
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