Intensive talks continue in Brussels today between the two negotiators. The new deadline set by the EU Parliament is Sunday night in order to allow the MEPs to ratify the deal, if one is reached by then.
Speaking in front of the EU Parliament today, Michel Barnier said there are “just a few hours” remaining in which the deal can be agreed. According to Barnier, “there is a chance of getting an agreement but the path to such an agreement is very narrow”.
Sticking points in the Brexit deal negotiations still exist and concern the fisheries and the “level playing field” with regards to fair competition. Brussel’s chief negotiator urged the member states leaders, when addressing them today, to show “real effort” in coming to compromises surrounding the issue of access to the British fishing waters.
Michel Barnier concluded that despite the “narrow path” the bloc would not be ready to sign an agreement “at any price or any cost”. The concessions the EU makes, if any, have to be reasonable and therefore, he told the MEPs that they “have to be prepared for all eventualities”.
The UK is equally not ready to cave in. The British PM spoke to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on the phone on Thursday evening and told her that the talks are now in “a serious situation”. Mr Johnson called the EU to “substantially” change its stance if the deal is to be reached by Sunday. Commenting afterwards, on what was said during the phone call, Michael Gove said that the Brexit deal is “less than 50%” likely.
With thousands of UK businesses worrying about the effects of the outcome of these talks, Boris Johnson told the MPs that Britain can thrive, deal or no-deal, come January 1st. However, there are many opponents who believe the transition to World Trade Organisation’s trade rules will raise the prices, which will ultimately translate to consumer costs getting higher.
Only one-tenth of funding allocated to prevent border hold-ups
Earlier this week, the CEO of Port of Dover called for urgent support from the government to help prevent “hold-ups” that the extended time due to increased amount of formalities is likely to cause at border crossings.
Mr Bannister filed a request to receive £33m in funding to make the passport checks process smoother. The government turned the request down and instead allocated £33,000 for this purpose.
According to Mr Bannister, without these funds we are likely to see hold-ups and friction at the Port of Dover as the transition period ends and we enter a new system.
The neighbouring Port in Calais spoke on the matter, shortly after the aforementioned events. The chief executive of the French port said he is prepared to handle the custom checks that will return as the UK leaves the single market.
“Brexit is not synonymous with chaos, Brexit is not synonymous with a snarling up of traffic,” Calais port chief Jean-Marc Puissesseau told Reuters. “If customs declarations are done as they should be, ahead of time, I don’t see a problem.”
With only a few days until the set deadline, and less than half a month until the end of the transition period, the uncertainty and anticipation among businesses in our industry raises. Here at UKCS we have been ‘prepared for all eventualities’ for a while now and we are ready to support our clients with their individual needs. If you are looking for customs solutions that work after Brexit, get in touch with us!