Brexit trade pact: staged drama or miscalculation?

London / Brussels (dpa) – Less than 48 hours before the deadline for a breakthrough in talks on a Brexit trade pact expires, doubts about an agreement are growing. Both sides decided that a decision should be made by Sunday at the latest.


The British government now has four Royal Navy ships ready to protect their waters from EU fishing tractors in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense in London at the request of the German Press Agency. The navy’s patrol boats could be used to repel EU fishing boats, among other tasks, the spokesman said. If necessary, also around the clock.

According to Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, an agreement “is getting more difficult every day, but it is still possible,” as the SPD politician told the newspapers of the Funke media group. He added: “That is why we as the EU will continue to negotiate as long as the window is open even a crack. We’ll see what works by Sunday and then evaluate the situation again. “

Theoretically, time would be until shortly before the turn of the year. Only then will the transition phase come to an end, during which everything will remain the same despite the British leaving the EU. The British media are therefore speculating whether a return to the negotiating table would not be possible even if they admitted the failure on Sunday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson swore his compatriots to a no deal. It was “very, very likely” that the negotiations would fail, he said. But that too is a solution that is “wonderful for Great Britain”. After all, you can do exactly what you want from January 1st, the prime minister said on Friday.

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The most important point of contention besides fishing is the issue of competitive conditions. Brussels takes the position that competition from Great Britain can only hope for duty-free trade if both sides of the English Channel have the same labor, social and environmental standards.

But that is a matter of principle for London. Again and again British officials stress that it is a question of the sovereignty of their country. With Brexit one wants to regain control over one’s own laws, borders, waters and one’s own money – and not adopt the EU standards, over which one no longer has any influence. For Johnson it is absurd that, according to his presentation, the EU demands that Great Britain should follow EU rule changes at every turn.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen countered on Friday in Brussels: The British are free to deviate from European rules in the future, for example with regard to environmental standards. But the conditions for the European internal market would then also have to be adjusted, in other words: tariffs introduced.

When it comes to fishing, the British want to decide for themselves who is allowed to catch how much in their waters. But the exclusive economic zone that the country now claims is not in line with the historically evolved division of fishing grounds, as defined in the framework of the European fisheries policy. Economically, the topic hardly plays a role, but symbolically it should hardly be underestimated for the former sea power Great Britain. Here, too, neither side wants to give in.

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Commentators in the UK disagree on what’s behind the stalemate. Both sides could rely on the other to give in – and risk a serious miscalculation. Or maybe Johnson gives in at the last moment in exchange for symbolic concessions and everything is just a carefully planned choreography that is supposed to portray him as a fighter in the eyes of the Brexit hardliners? It would not be the first time. But nobody can be sure.

In the event that it goes wrong, more than a third of Britons (35 percent) would blame their own government for the failure of negotiations, according to a lightning poll by polling firm YouGov on Friday. A little more than a quarter (27 percent), however, see responsibility with the European Union. Another quarter would blame both sides equally.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 201212-99-664015 / 3


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