British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels on Wednesday to hold talks with Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen to conclude a post-Brexit trade deal after the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned of the talks had with the UK won’t go beyond Wednesday.
The dinner will take place in the run-up to an EU summit scheduled for December 10-11. Meanwhile, von der Leyen will inform the heads of state and government of the EU27 about the results of the discussions and whether an agreement is possible.
The two sides have yet to bridge their differences on key areas such as EU access to UK fishing waters, business level playing field and dispute settlement agreements before the end of the year-end transition period. Should they fail to reach an agreement, the EU and the UK must act on the terms laid down by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Talks between Barnier and his UK counterpart last week reached another stalemate. The two negotiators decided to interrupt their talks to inform their clients. After a phone call between von der Leyen and Johnson on Saturday, the two sides met the next day in Brussels, while Barnier said to the EU ambassadors at COREPER on Monday that the Brexit talks were “not far from the final” and that it would go on until the middle of the week, but no further.
According to EU sources quoted by Reuters, the EU negotiator said during a video conference meeting with EU foreign ministers on Tuesday that a “no-deal” scenario was more likely than a deal on a trade pact, and also stressed that the bloc its No should update – handle contingency plans.
However, in a surprising move later in the day, an agreement was reached between the UK government and Brussels on the implementation of the withdrawal agreement.
“This agreement in principle and the resulting draft texts are now subject to the respective internal procedures in the EU and the UK,” said a statement by the two chairmen of the EU-UK joint committee on the implementation of the British withdrawal agreement, Maros Sefcovic, Vice-President of the Commission and British Minister Michael Gove.
“Once that is done, a fifth ordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee will be convened to officially adopt it. This will happen in the coming days and before the end of the year, ”the statement added.
🇪🇺🇬🇧 I’m happy to announce that @michaelgove and I have worked hard to reach an agreement in principle on all issues related to the implementation of #WithdrawalAgreement. This will ensure that it will be fully functional as of January 1st. the protocol over Ireland / NI 👉 https://t.co/RaWNEVbxrt pic.twitter.com/1OCjapNd3F
– Maroš Šefčovič🇪🇺 (@MarosSefcovic) December 8, 2020
Shortly after the deal was announced, the UK Prime Minister said he would drop controversial plans to violate international law as he would remove the clauses in what is known as the Single Market Act that would override elements of the withdrawal agreement, and also that he would not do any introduce similar provisions in the upcoming tax law.
In October the Commission started legal action against the UK over the legislation while the EU Parliament has threatened to block trade deals if London does not remove the clauses.