On the road outside the town of Dover, the main ferry port in Kent, England, a large number of trucks lined up for nearly 5 kilometers on the 12th.
The previous day, there was a truck congestion scene in the northern port city of Calais, France, with a queue of about 16 kilometers long. Local officials say the number of trucks to Calais and the English Channel Tunnel has increased by 50% in the past three weeks.
The “Brexit” transition period ends on December 31 this year, and the negotiations between Britain and Europe on future relations are pending. As the “no-deal Brexit” is getting closer and closer, many supermarkets in the UK are busy hoarding food and other commodities, especially drug and medical device suppliers, and preparing for the potentially changing coronavirus epidemic.
The UK “Brexit” on January 31 this year, entering an 11-month transition period. In March, Britain and Europe launched negotiations on future relations with a trade agreement at the core, looking forward to reaching an agreement during the transition period. If no agreement is reached before December 31, a “hard Brexit” will occur. From 2021, bilateral trade will return to the framework of the World Trade Organization and resume border inspections, tariffs, etc. This means that the cost of trade between Britain and Europe will increase, and the negative impact on the UK may be more serious.
Since December, British and European leaders have communicated frequently. Both sides said last week that it was more likely that a trade agreement could not be reached.
On December 9, at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, European Commission President von der Leyen (right) welcomed visiting British Prime Minister Johnson. Xinhua News Agency/AFP
The trade negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union took nine months, and the main differences lie in fisheries issues, fair playing field and compliance management.
On the issue of fisheries, the contradictions between the two sides mainly focus on the access and quota of EU fishing vessels in British waters.
For a long time, under the EU Common Fisheries Policy, fishing quotas for most British waters have been allocated to EU countries. The United Kingdom believes that this move is unfair, hoping to correct this “error” through “Brexit”, regain control of its own maritime fishery resources, and give priority to British fishing vessels access.
David Frost, who is responsible for trade negotiations on behalf of the United Kingdom, has told the British Parliament that the fisheries issue may be the biggest obstacle at the Anglo-European negotiating table. In fact, the contribution of fishing to Britain’s economy is not significant. The statistics released on Oct 5 show that marine fisheries accounted for only 5.5% of the total value added (GVA) of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in the United Kingdom in 2019.
The difficult reason for the issue of fisheries is that the EU asked the British side in the negotiations to allow fishermen from EU countries to continue fishing in British waters in the future, while some Brexitists regard fishing rights as an “important symbol” of national sovereignty. Johnson is very sensitive to this. Analysts believe that Johnson may need to use fisheries as his “military badge” in dealing with the Brexit process.
On December 11, fishing boats stopped at the port of Bridlington in England. Xinhua News Agency/AFP
The core of the level playing field is state subsidies. The EU believes that if the UK wants to enter the EU single market with a population of more than 400 million, it needs to comply with EU rules and require the UK to keep pace with the EU in terms of environmental, labor and social standards and state subsidies. Otherwise, British enterprises may gain additional competitive advantages from the country’s more relaxed regulation and excessive state subsidies, from And put EU products at a disadvantage.
Britain, for its part, wants more autonomy and refuses to accept the EU’s stringent requirements for state subsidies.
In terms of compliance management, the British government announced the Internal Markets Act in September, which involved provisions in Northern Ireland, which were considered to be above the “Brexit” agreement, which caused controversy. On the 8th of this month, the United Kingdom and the European Union announced that they had reached agreement in principle on the implementation of the “Brexit” agreement on the legacy issues, especially with regard to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom agreed to repeal the dispute clause in domestic legislation.
On December 13, European Commission President von der Leyen delivered a speech in Brussels. Xinhua News Agency/Europe News Agency
On December 13, European Commission President von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Johnson talked on the phone again about the Anglo-European negotiations. Speaking on video at noon that day, she agreed with Johnson to authorize their respective teams to continue negotiations and strive to reach an agreement in the short remaining time.” Although the negotiating teams of both sides have been exhausted in continuous work, it is the responsibility of both sides to work harder.
Ding Chun, director of the Center for European Studies of Fudan University, believes that from the perspective of the meeting between British and European leaders and the high-level promotion of negotiations, Britain and Europe do not want to see a “no-deal Brexit” and is currently in the stage of “final pressure”. The two sides may eventually make some changes and announce a principled or framework trade agreement before the end of the year to push forward the relevant technical details.
Wang Zhanpeng, director of the British Research Center of Beijing International Studies University, believes that the two sides are likely to form a vague framework for state subsidies on the stale point of the British-European trade negotiations, and the EU may compromise on fisheries. The two sides will gradually enrich the details of this vague framework in the next year to several years. Even if they may face obstacles in customs declaration and other practical operations in the short term, the two sides should form a temporary agreement to ensure the unimpeded flow of anti-epidemic materials and goods related to people’s livelihood.
This is a fishing boat docked at the dock in Shoreham-sur-sur-the-southern England on October 11. Shoreham-sur-Mer is one of the fishing ports designated by the British government. Xinhua News Agency
British people’s expectations for the “Brexit” outlook are not optimistic. According to a survey released by British consulting firm British Thinking on the 13th, 66% of the respondents are expected to have a “no-deal Brexit”, 58% believe that it will have a negative impact on their lives, and only 26% believe that it will not affect their lives.
The Sunday Times reported that as the possibility of a “no-deal Brexit” rises, the British government has signed an agreement with four ferry freight companies to arrange 3,000 trucks to transport food and medicine to the UK every week; 16 government departments will send people to participate in the exercise scheduled for the 16th to deal with the worst situation; more Officials approved hundreds of emergency plans in advance to deal with “every foreseeable scenario”.
In addition, four British naval patrol ships are on standby. If the negotiations between Britain and Europe are unsuccessful, they will protect fish in British waters from the first day after the end of the Brexit transition period on the 31st.