As the weeks come to an end, Michel Barnier, who was initially supposed to be returning back to Brussels this evening, has announced he will not be updating EU ambassadors and will stay in London to continue the negotiations over the weekend. This suggests that a deal will not be reached today and that there is more to be discussed.
Some EU sources suggest the deal is now “imminent”. Both parties agree that they plan for a trade deal to be agreed upon either by Sunday evening this week or Monday morning next week. While these positive outlooks have been shared, there have been signs that point to both parties wanting to be stricter with any concessions they may potentially make, which ultimately puts a trade deal further on the horizon.
What is clear, and has been evident over the last few months, is that both, the EU and the UK are both pointing fingers at each other, claiming that it’s the other party that needs to soften their stance.
According to a UK government source, France has been lobbying the EU increasingly more in the last few days. The UK claims that the EU is now “bringing new elements to the table at the eleventh hour”, which they described as mere “theatrics”.
At the same time, the EU challenged the statement, explaining that the same sticking points, namely the access to the British fishing waters and the ‘level playing field’, remain.
Veto from France
A new development in the talks regarding the fisheries has come from Clement Beaume, France’s Europe Minister, who announced he is ready to veto any trade deal that does not recognise France’s demands. For the French fishing industry, especially the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, 17 miles away from Dover, access to the British fishing waters is seen as essential, in order for them to survive. If there is no deal assuring this, a local fishing official believes “that would mean certain death” for France’s northern fishing fleet. No agreement on the fishing waters would see around 13,500 French fishermen expelled from the British sea territory.
The UK securing the automotive industry with another continuity deal
To soften the blow of leaving the EU, the UK has been securing various continuity trade deals with countries outside of the bloc. The most recent one, confirmed this week, has been agreed with North Macedonia. This is the 54th trade deal the UK managed to secure and with the Balkan countries becoming more and more renowned for their automotive industry, the trade deal offers more security to consumers and businesses within the industry.
As the deadline of 31st December approaches fast, and more news is emerging, we are preparing our staff and streamlining our operations to be ready to help businesses, just like yours. If you believe your business deserves to thrive, despite the ‘politics’, get in touch with us to discuss how we can make the post-Brexit trade easier for you.