The Drian: a Brexit without a “very credible” and “likely” agreement to date

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The French Minister of Foreign Affairs proclaimed it on Tuesday: “We are prepared to all eventualities “. Jean-Yves Le Drian said before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly that a lack of agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on their future relations was now a possible prospect.

“As it is now, the hypothesis of a no-deal is the very credible hypothesis, unfortunately likely today, ”he said. “But we know the British skill in tactics,” he qualified. “Even though the British are formidable tacticians, today is not the time for tactics. We have finished playing, we are at the end of the day, ”he continued.

A date still unclear

“This means that between October 15 and mid-November, everything must be decided”, also underlined the minister, evoking for the first time the deadline of November 15. The French foreign minister refuted that the next European summit, Thursday and Friday, constitutes a deadline to reach an agreement, as suggested by the British Prime Minister.

“The date of October 15, it is Prime Minister Boris Johnson who announces it, it is not the position of the European Council which meets Thursday and Friday. It’s not necessarily there that things are tied up, ”said Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The European Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, for his part let it be understood on Tuesday that the conclusion of a trade agreement with the United Kingdom could still take “weeks”. Until then, the Europeans had always set themselves the end of October to find a compromise.

A meeting Wednesday between Johnson and Von der Leyen

The negotiations come up against competition rules, fisheries and governance conditions. “Fishing should not be the adjustment variable of the agreement”, hammered in particular Michel Barnier, adding that “the privileged access to the Single Market that the United Kingdom wants is inseparable from the guarantees for our fishermen”.

This subject is particularly sensitive for a handful of EU Member States such as France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Denmark. The Europeans initially hoped to keep their fishermen’s access to British waters, which is full of fish, as it is after the post-Brexit transition period, which ends on December 31. But the UK wants to limit this access and is proposing that fishing rights in its waters be renegotiated every year.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is due to meet with Boris Johnson on Wednesday, as the two sides accuse each other of blocking post-Brexit trade negotiations.

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