European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “very worried” about the feasibility of negotiations on the UK’s exit from the European Union by the end of 2020, in an interview published on Friday.
“I am very worried about the short time we have,” said French economic daily Les Echos Ms. von der Leyen, who took office in early December.
One of the urgent tasks of the new Commission will be to fix with London the terms of its relationship with the EU after its planned exit on January 31.
“It is not only a question of negotiating a free trade agreement, but of many other subjects. It seems to me that, on both sides, we should seriously ask ourselves if all these negotiations are possible in such a short time”, said the German leader.
“I think it would be reasonable to take stock mid-year and, if necessary, to agree on an extension of the transition period,” she said.
Earlier this week, European Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier conceded that agreeing and ratifying a post-Brexit relationship by the end of 2020 as demanded by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson “will be a huge challenge, but we will do our best, even if we cannot achieve everything. “
The two sides will only have 11 months to reach an agreement after Britain leaves the EU on January 31. Johnson, who has had his hands free in his country since winning the December 12 legislative elections, refuses to ask for an extension beyond 2020.
One of the thorniest issues is the terms of the free trade agreement. Johnson said last week that an “ambitious” trade deal would be reached “without alignment with EU rules, but rather with control of our own laws and close and friendly relations”.
In her interview with Les Echos, Mrs von der Leyen warned that “if we want to benefit from the prosperity of the single market, access it without barriers or customs duty, we must all accept its common principles and values “.