President Ursula von der Leyen made a brief statement in Brussels that a trade agreement is being negotiated with the United Kingdom. She had a phone call with Prime Minister Johnson. He will also catch up with his cabinet.
“ We decided to go that extra mile,” said Von der Leyen in her short speech. She did not mention a deadline for the end of the negotiations.
“ Our negotiating teams have worked day and night over the past few days. And despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiation, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over again, we find it right now to go that extra mile”, says Von der Leyen.
Check out the entire statement of Von der Leyen here:
Prime Minister Johnson also made a statement. According to him, the positions of the EU and the United Kingdom are “still very far apart on important matters” and the British should be prepared for a no-deal on 31 December. Thats what he said after consulting his cabinet.
But “well keep talking to see whats possible. The UK will certainly not run away from the talks.” He also reiterated his offer to speak with other EU leaders.
“ Von der Leyen said very little in terms of content, but what she said was more positive than we have heard recently, because she wants to talk through”, concludes EU correspondent Thomas Spekschoor.
Similarly, correspondent Tim de Wit in London thinks it is positive that the negotiations have not been clapped today. “This day has been pumped up by the British tabloids to no-deal day. All that rhetoric has turned out to be a smokescreen and it turns out that there is still sufficient basis for talking. That is explained here as a bright spot.”
The British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said this morning that is still a long way to go. He did not rule out that the talks would continue even after today.
The main bottleneck in the talks is how closely the UK must comply with EU economic rules in the future. The British want to maintain access to the European internal market while at the same time acquiring a degree of sovereignty. The EU is of the view that the benefits of access entail countries adhering to European rules.
According to Raab, the EU is concerned that Brexit will work well for the UK and bring a competitive advantage. The EU wants to prevent the British from having favourable trading conditions with the EU while at the same time favousing their own businesses with subsidies, for example.
Fishing rights are still a matter of disagreement. The British want to close the fishing waters around the United Kingdom to European fishermen, who take a very large part of their catches out of the water there.
“Crawling over broken glass”
The British daily mail newspaper had little faith in the successful outcome of that conversation this morning and headlines the message is that it will be a no-deal-brexit.
According to the newspaper, supermarkets have already been told that they have to prepare for massive hoarding if no deal is made. There is a fear that there will be a shortage of vegetables for a few months if a hard brexit comes. The vegetables in British supermarkets come to a large part of the European continent.
Daily Mail accuses the failure to reach an agreement in particular of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who, according to a newspaper source, is determined to let the UK crawl over broken glass instead of compromise.