The First british minister Theresa May under pressure by its european peers. To restart negotiations on the Brexit, it did not rule out Thursday a longer transition, without convincing that the idea can help to break the deadlock. The option to extend “a few months” the transition period, currently foreseen to last until December 2023, has ” emerged “, explained Theresa May on Thursday morning in Brussels, in the aftermath of his brief speech before his 27 counterparts. The use of this possibility should not be necessary, she however nuanced, relying always on the negotiation of a trade agreement between the United Kingdom and the european Union before the end of 2023.
Very controversial in the uk, where it has immediately caused a lifting of shields, this event is also received with caution by the side of 27, among whom a certain “scepticism” about the outcome of the negotiations begins to grow, according to a source european. Even the idea of an extension of the transitional period will not necessarily unblock the situation, according to a source at the Elysée palace. Not officially on the negotiating table, “this is something that floats (…) If this can help, no problem,” observed a source in europe.
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The negotiations on the terms of the divorce block on the question of the border between Ireland and the british province of Northern Ireland and the definition of the “safety net” (backstop) is required to ensure that a physical boundary does not see the new day in the island, in order to preserve the peace agreements of 1998. Extend the transition period would give more time to negotiate a future trade agreement between the EU and the Uk and thus avoid having to resort to this ” backstop “.
A top official in britain confirmed on Thursday that even if the transition period was extended, the United Kingdom remained opposed to the “backstop” proposed by the Europeans. This solution provides for the retention of Northern Ireland within the customs union and the single market, if no other solution is found. London, for its part, proposes to remain aligned on the customs rules of the Eu until the signing of a free trade agreement, and broader, in order to avoid the control of goods at borders. The two sides remain dug in on their positions. “It is not possible that the Uk keeps all the advantages of the common market, but only according to its own conditions,” explained the Prime minister of luxembourg Xavier Bettel, recalling the red lines of the EU.
The ball is in the camp of the British
The 27 had hoped yet new proposals on the part of Ms. May to kick-start discussions. “More than ever, the ball is in the camp of Great Britain “, stated the Prime minister of belgium Charles Michel. After the short presentation of the leader of the uk, the 27 countries have decided at a dinner that does not suffer from the debilitating not to convene a special summit in November, as it was planned with the idea of closing the negotiations.
“there has not been enough progress” in recent weeks to decide on a summit, had explained a source of the european at the end of the meeting. Do not stop for the new date, “it gives more freedom to negotiate, the negotiation should accelerate now,” -explained Thursday in the entourage of the French president Emmanuel Macron, while leaving the door open to a meeting ” when necessary “.
With negotiations that are skating and the clock is running, the scenario of a lack of agreement hovers more on the discussions. The president of the european Council Donald Tusk had been deemed “more likely than ever” in his invitation to the summit. The european Commission has made it a point on the state of preparations in the event of no deal during the dinner. This was not “a discussion majeure,” said a source european. “But I think that, clearly, the feeling is that now we need to accelerate (our preparation) in any of the scenarios,” reported the source.
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