6th Jul 2022

Post-Brexit talks in last push until Sunday

  • British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen met in the EU exective's Berlaymont building (Photo: European Commission)

British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday night (9 December) that an agreement on future EU-UK needs to be found until Sunday or face a no-deal scenario.

The two leaders held a three-hour-long meeting in Brussels over dinner in the commission's Berlaymont building which von der Leyen described in a statement as "lively" and "interesting".

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

"We gained a clear understanding of each other´s positions. They remain far apart," the commission chief said, despite months of negotiations on how future trade ties should look like once the UK breaks all ties with the bloc at the end of the year.

Negotiating teams will continue to try to bridge the gaps in the coming days, and a decision will be made by the end of the week on whether there is a possibility for a deal or not.

The main sticking points are fishing rights in British waters, ensuring fair competition for companies on both sides, and ways to solve future disputes.

German chancellor Angela Merkel earlier on Wednesday told German lawmakers that the integrity of the single market cannot be compromised.

"If there are conditions coming from the British side which we cannot accept, then we will go on our own way without an exit agreement," she said.

The EU wants to make sure that the UK cannot undercut its businesses and follows EU standards, something Johnson said that "no British prime minister could accept".

The EU's aim is to manage the future divergence in environmental, social and labour standards, which are currently shared, while the UK insists on its sovereignty in setting up its own standards.

Von der Leyen is expected to update EU leaders on the status of the talks as they meet for a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

The German commission chief met Johnson in the Berlaymont building and as the two leaders posed for pictures von der Leyen warned Johnson to "keep [your] distance", reminding him of Covid regulations.

She told Johnson he should remove his masks for the pictures and then "put it back on immediately."

"You run a tight ship here, Ursula, and quite right too," Johnson quipped in return.

The mood of negotiations has soured over the last weeks, as both sides have increasingly called on the other to compromise ahead of the Brussels meeting.

The transition period, that ends on 31 December, meant that most rules covering trade, travel and businesses have been the same as when the UK was still a member of the bloc.

No deal on future relations - including zero tariffs and zero quotas - could hit firms hard on both sides, with the British economy expected to suffer the bigger blow.

In a small sign of optimism, the two sides had agreed on arrangements earlier this week for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Britain said it would remove bits in legislation that were in breach of the exit treaty governing the border issue.

Fish complicates last push for post-Brexit deal

"If the UK wants a deal here, there's a deal to be done. If the UK wants to use fish as an excuse not to have a deal, then that could happen too," Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney warned.


What a No Deal Brexit is going to look like

Research by the London School of Economics forecasts that a no-deal Brexit could be three times as bad as the pandemic for the UK economy, writes mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the president of the Committee of the Regions.

EU tells UK to move if it wants post-Brexit deal

After their discussions on Brexit, where phones were not allowed in the meeting room, EU leaders called on the Commission to draw up contingency measures in case there is no deal.

EU prepares to ratify post-Brexit trade deal

EU ambassadors of the 27 member states are meeting on Monday to provisionally apply the agreement, while top MEPs also discuss the way ahead for parliamentary approval.


Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.


One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey signs Nato protocol despite Sweden extradition row
  2. European gas production hit by Norway strike
  3. EU Commission told to step up fight against CAP fraud
  4. Ukraine needs €719bn to rebuild, says PM
  5. Germany records first monthly trade deficit since 1991
  6. Pilots from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden strike
  7. Report: EU to sign hydrogen deal with Namibia
  8. Israel and Poland to mend relations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. 'World is watching', as MEPs vote on green finance rules
  2. Turkey sends mixed signals on Sweden's entry into Nato
  3. EU Parliament sued over secrecy on Nazi MEP expenses
  4. Italy glacier tragedy has 'everything to do' with climate change
  5. The Digital Services Act — a case-study in keeping public in dark
  6. Report slams German opposition to new child sexual abuse rules
  7. Is China a challenge to Nato? Beijing responds
  8. ECB announces major green shift in corporate bond-buying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us