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Brexit: the fear of a “no deal”

Stop or else? To persevere in the search for a post-Brexit agreement, when Boris Johnson seems determined to send everything to waltz, or to end once and for all? This is the stake of the European summit which opens this Thursday in Brussels. The 27 heads of state and government – minus the Polish Prime Minister who, in case of contact with Covid-19, is in quarantine – will listen attentively to the report by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator with the British since 2016. With less than three months from the deadline, the end of the transition period before the final release of the moorings of the United Kingdom with Europe being set for January 1, 2021 at midnight, disagreements are deep and the risk of “no deal ”very real.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also meet this Wednesday with the two heads of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, before deciding whether the difficult post-Brexit trade negotiations are worth pursuing. . In the absence of agreement on the future relationship between the island and the mainland, it will be the full return to customs posts and fussy control of all travelers and goods.

What gets stuck? Free fair competition within the Internal Market, on the one hand. Although liberal, “BoJo” intends to help British companies as it pleases, skewing the rules of the game. Fishing, on the other hand. The British want exclusive rights over their territorial waters, which are full of fish and vital for French fishermen in particular. London proposes annual quotas, rejected by Paris.

On these two issues, a compromise is needed. It is up to Michel Barnier, strongly contested by the English camp, to find it … while preserving the unity of the Twenty-Seven. The negotiations will undoubtedly continue despite the posturing of the British Prime Minister, familiar with these pressure strikes. “The British have a lot more to lose than us from a no deal, the stake for them is access to a market of 400 million consumers”, summarizes an Elyos adviser.

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