Simon Covenney, a high-level official of the Irish government who has long tracked the “Brexit” affairs, confirmed on the 11th that the EU and the UK are unlikely to reach an agreement on future relations after the “Brexit” this week, and the negotiations are expected to continue until next week.
Sources in the UK and Europe disclosed that it is still difficult to make breakthroughs in the negotiations between the two sides to focus on fisheries, ensuring the fairness of competition rules such as government assistance, and the future dispute settlement mechanism. However, Covinni believes that the possibility of an agreement between Europe and Britain is higher than that of a breakdown in negotiations.
[Missed the deadline]
Covinni said in an online discussion on the 11th that the EU-UK future relations negotiations are “unlikely this week” to reach an agreement and “may continue until next week.” “In that case, time will be very tight… If we cannot reach an agreement at a certain node next week, I think we will have real problems.”
EU and British sources told Reuters earlier in the day that the two sides expect a new round of future relations negotiations this week to continue through the weekend.
This means that the two sides are bound to miss the previously expected deadline in mid-November for an agreement. The British “Times” reported that the EU video summit is scheduled to be held on the 19th. This date is regarded by some EU figures as the deadline for negotiations.
A high-level EU diplomat said that the envoys of the 27 EU countries will hold a regular meeting on the 11th, which will not involve the progress of the negotiations. They will hear reports when they meet on the 18th. A source said: “The EU cannot put timetables above priority interests. We must continue negotiations as needed and prepare all possible scenarios at a certain moment.”
The British Prime Minister’s Office refused to set a time limit for the negotiations on the 11th, saying that the previous multiple deadlines were proposed by the European side.
The UK entered a transitional period for maintaining the status quo in relations with the EU after its “Brexit” in January this year. The UK and the EU were originally scheduled to use the transitional period ending at the end of this year to finalize future relations arrangements such as trade rules that will apply from next year, but the negotiations have so far made no significant progress.
[Hope to reach an agreement]
In Covinni’s view, the most controversial issue in the negotiations is still fisheries, and the EU needs to ensure that no member states are “disproportionately affected by the new arrangement.”
A source in the British government told The Times that government assistance is one of the difficulties in negotiations between the two sides, because Britain and Europe have different concepts of “level playing field”. The British side cannot accept the legal system that is “equivalent to the EU” and will be punished for deviation from the system. “We need policy space in the future to decide what is in the UK’s interests. This is the essence of Brexit.”
Reuters noted that Britain and Europe seem to be still pushing for an agreement. Several EU sources expect that negotiators will be able to submit an agreement text by the middle of next week, unless negotiations between the two parties break down or break through earlier.
The European Parliament has been worried that it will not have time to approve the legal text of the agreement, saying that if the agreement can be received before the 16th of this month, it is expected to be approved on December 16. An EU diplomat said: “The real dividing point is next weekend.”
On the 11th, Covinni still expressed cautious optimism that the two sides will finally reach a conclusion, saying that “the two sides have reached the end of finding an agreement” and “‘no agreement’ is not in anyone’s interest.” “If you ask me what I think, I think we are more likely to reach an agreement than to fail.”
The governor of the Irish Central Bank, Gabriel Mahluf, predicted at the end of October that, if the United Kingdom “no-deal Brexit”, the European Union country Ireland, which is located on the island of Ireland with the Northern Ireland region of the United Kingdom, might become the most negatively affected country in the euro zone.