Both Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen spoke on Wednesday afternoon, giving an update on the progress of the intense Brexit-deal negotiations. Despite ‘good news’ from the EU and an optimistic tone from Boris, No 10’s spokesperson commented, shortly after PM’s update, saying no-deal is still the ‘most likely outcome’.
When speaking to the EU leaders, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission said, “there is a path to an agreement now – the path may be very narrow, but it is there.”, after admitting that she cannot promise the deal will be reached in time. Similarly, in his speech to the MPs, Boris Johnson claimed there was “every opportunity” to reach a deal.
The ‘good news’
The optimism in the leaders’ speeches came as a result of the progress that has been made on some of the decisive issues surrounding common standards and subsidies.
According to Ursula von der Leyen the negotiators managed to reach an agreement on how to regulate the environmental and social standards, which was a “big step forward”.
Agreeing on “common principles” for when subsidies could be offered to private companies after Brexit has also pushed the negotiations further.
An UK official said on Wednesday, “We’ve made some progress, but we are still very far apart in key areas”. One key area that is still keeping the two parties from signing a trade deal is the access to the British fishing waters, and it’s likely to have been the reason why the UK government’s spokesman reported no-deal outcome is still a big probability.
The EU and UK negotiators are still finding it extremely difficult to reach an agreement regarding the fisheries. Speaking before the EU leaders, the president of the European Commission said “In all honesty, it sometimes feels that we will not be able to resolve this question,” whilst adding that they must continue to try.
What the EU has been asking for, which was yet again reaffirmed by Mrs von der Leyen on Wednesday, is that, while the EU respects UK’s sovereignty, the member states need the UK to provide “stability and predictability” for the EU fishermen and women.
Speaking after her, the British PM put across his point of view on what how to reach the long-awaited Brexit trade deal by saying, “All that it takes is for them to understand that the UK has a natural right, like every other country, to be able to want to control its own laws and its own fishing grounds.”
Whilst the intensive talks are continuing, an emergency bill that tries to prevent border chaos has been passed in the House of Commons. The next few days are the “decisive days” in the Brexit-deal negotiations and will shape the future of trade for the UK and the member states of the EU. Keep up to date with the advancements in the negotiations and how it’s likely to affect your business. And if you’re looking for assistance, get in touch with our experts!