Ursula von der Leyen pointed to the UK’s rejection of a comprehensive sanctioning mechanism to keep it faithful to any Brexit deal with the EU as an emerging threat to an agreement, as a leaked document revealed that Germany wanted to develop plans for “no deal” 2.0 ”.
Although the most recent background music around the negotiations has been positive, the President of the European Commission has sought to draw attention to one of the lesser-known areas where the two sides disagree.
“Governance may seem like a problem for bureaucrats,” Von der Leyen told the European Parliament. ” It’s not. It is central to our businesses and individuals, both in the UK and in the European Union. It is essential to ensure that what has been agreed is actually done. “
The EU wants a successful deal with a dispute settlement mechanism covering everything from trade to transport and judicial cooperation to fisheries. A clear violation of the agreement could allow each party to respond by suspending part of the relationship.
Downing Street opposed the governance proposal, insisting that there should be a series of separate sectoral agreements.
EU officials are understood to fear that this seemingly obscure issue may prove to be the most difficult to find in order to find a compromise in the short time remaining before the end of the transitional period.
In signal of doubts by the EU on Boris Johnson’s statement on Monday that a deal could be reached in six weeks, a leaked document obtained by Reuters revealed that the German government was reserving September as the key month instead.
The government document, dated June 15, reads as follows: “Starting in September, negotiations enter a burning phase. Britain is already intensifying threats in Brussels, wants to settle as soon as possible as soon as possible and hopes for a last-minute success in the negotiations.
“It is therefore important to preserve the unity of the 27, to continue to insist on parallel progress in all areas (global package) and to make it clear that there will not be agreement at all costs. Therefore, both national and European contingency plans should now begin in order to be ready for a deal without a 2.0 deal. “
EU officials believe the real deadline is October 31, after which any agreement will have to be ratified by the European Parliament.
Von der Leyen told MEPs on Wednesday: “We are now halfway through these negotiations. But we are certainly not halfway to work to reach an agreement. With little time ahead of us, we will do everything in our power to reach an agreement. “
In addition to settling disputes, Von der Leyen referred to the agreement on a level playing field to ensure fair competition between British and European companies, access to British fishing waters and police cooperation as the main areas of contention.
There is also dismay in Brussels over the UK’s refusal to enter into talks on future security and defense cooperation.
Echoing comments by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier this month when he complained of not understanding the British position, the bloc’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, João Vale de Almeida, told Bloomberg that member states remain open on the issue if Downing Street reconsidered.
“We have presented a negotiating table proposal, as we call it, on security and defense [and] foreign policy issues in general, “he said. “The UK has chosen not to open this discussion table.”
Von der Leyen, however, hinted at an EU compromise on fisheries by simply seeking “guarantees and predictability” for the European fleet rather than the status quo.
After a videoconference meeting on Monday between Johnson and the leaders of the European institutions, including Von der Leyen, the two parties undertook to “intensify” the talks in July and, if possible, to “quickly reach an agreement on the principles under – refer to any agreement ”.
EU officials are as eager as Downing Street to reach a speedy deal, and European Council President Charles Michel will present the latest negotiating progress to leaders on video conference on Friday.