Monday

3rd Oct 2022

Brussels warns UK of 'difficult' Brexit trade talks

  • 'The truth is that our partnership cannot and will not be the same as before,' said the EU Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, at an event in London (Photo: European Parliament)

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Wednesday (8 January) that the future trade negotiations between Europe and the UK will be "difficult" within the period set by the UK, but that Brussels remains optimistic about the future.

"Without an extension of the transition period beyond 2020, you cannot expect to agree on every single aspect of our new partnership," she said, adding that "it is basically impossible to negotiate all [sectors]".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But freshly-elected Conservative British prime minister Boris Johnson has ruled out any extension request - although he has a track record of going back on promises, having previously promised to leave the EU on 31 October 2019 "do or die".

The UK will in fact now leave the EU on 31 January.

"Without the freedom of movement of people, you cannot have the free movement of capital, goods and services [and] without a level playing field on the environment, labour, taxation and state aid, you cannot have highest-quality access to the world's largest single market," von der Leyen stated in London - in her first visit there since becoming commission chief.

As a result, the EU and the UK will have to prioritise some elements of the deal, she warned.

"Each side would do what was best for them," but the German head of the EU made clear that any solution must uphold "the integrity of the European Union, its single market and its customs union".

"We are ready to work day and night to get as much of this done within the timeframe we have," von der Leyen added.

"None of this means it will be easy, but we start this negotiation from a position of certainty, goodwill, shared interests and purpose," she said.

In practice, the commission chief pointed out that the UK will have nine to 10 months to get a deal in time for it to be ratified by 31 December.

New partnership beyond trade

Von der Leyen insisted that the EU is ready to negotiate "a truly ambitious and comprehensive new partnership" with the UK, which includes a trade deal with "zero tariffs, zero quotas and zero dumpings".

The commission president has also decided to reach a new partnership "that goes well beyond trade and has an unprecedented scope" - covering "climate action to data protection, fisheries to energy, transport to space [and] financial services to security".

However, the relationship between the EU and the UK will never be the same after Brexit, she said, despite the fact that the UK and the EU will still share the same challenges, values, believes, history and geography.

"The truth is that our partnership cannot and will not be the same as before. And it cannot and will not be as close as before, because with every choice comes a consequence," von der Leyen admitted.

But Brexit does not only mark the end of something, it also marks a new phase.

"When the sun rises again on 1 February the EU and the UK will still be the best of friends and partners," von der Leyen said.

"This is the story of old friends and new beginnings," she added.

Agenda

Iran, Brexit test 'geopolitical' commission This WEEK

The EU foreign affairs chief attempts to salvage whatever is left of the Iran nuclear deal by inviting the Iranian foreign minister to Brussels - while the EU commission president heads to London for Brexit talks.

Von der Leyen warns of tough Brexit talks in 2020

The EU Commission president told MEPs in Strasbourg that time is running out in the expected 11 months available to strike a future trade deal with the UK - negotiations will have to continue into 2021 too.

Brexit deal to be signed, as sides poised for tough talks

MEPs move to approve the Brexit deal, and EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen and EU council president Charles MIchel prepare to sign it on Friday. The future relationship talks can only start late February, early March.

Agenda

Davos and Libya in focus This WEEK

The all-powerful will meet in Davos after Berlin tries to resolve the Libyan conflict over the weekend, while MEPs will set the stage for final ratification of the Brexit deal.

Opinion

Brexit - Europe's 'Versailles moment'?

The spectre of another peace agreement looms: that of the doomed Versailles treaty, which, by sowing resentment and perpetuating misunderstanding of each other's true ambitions and principles, created more tensions than it dissolved.

News in Brief

  1. Russia halts gas supplies to Italy
  2. Bulgaria risks hung parliament after inconclusive vote
  3. Latvian ruling party wins elections
  4. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  5. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  6. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  7. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  8. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. What Modi and Putin’s ‘unbreakable friendship’ means for the EU
  2. EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges
  3. Cities and regions stand with citizens and SMEs ahead of difficult winter
  4. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  5. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  6. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  7. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  8. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us