The chances of concluding an agreement with Great Britain on future trade relations with the European Union (EU) are decreasing day by day, the President of the European Commission (EC) Urzula von der Leiena warned on Wednesday.
Last week, the British government proposed a bill that partially disregards the terms of last year’s Brexite agreement with the European Union.
Brussels wants British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to abandon the bill, warning it could sink talks, but Johnson has refused to make concessions.
Britain withdrew from the EU on 31 January, but there is a transition period until the end of the year, during which, among other things, a new reciprocal trade agreement must be agreed.
If no agreement is reached, trade relations between the two parties will henceforth be governed by World Trade Organization rules.
“With each passing day, the chances of reaching an agreement in time decrease,” Leiena said in a speech to the European Parliament (EP).
She emphasized that the agreement to withdraw from the EU must not be unilaterally changed or disregarded.
“It is a matter of law, trust and goodwill (..) Trust is the basis of any strong partnership,” said Leiena.
Johnson claims the new bill will protect Britain’s integrity and has called it a “safety net” against the EU’s threat to impose tariffs on Britain’s internal trade and even suspend food imports into Northern Ireland from the British Isles.
The EU is worried about a chaotic brixite if no trade agreement is reached, and former British prime ministers have acknowledged that violating international rights is a step too far that is undermining the country’s image.
The controversial bill is currently being debated in the British Parliament, where Johnson has faced resistance within his own party.
But Justice Minister Robert Bakland has said the government sees its way through the parliamentary labyrinth, and Johnson has spoken to opponents in his party.
The minister revealed that talks are underway with Conservative MP Bob Neil, who has proposed amendments to the bill to ensure that any attempt to use an article that violates the Brexit Treaty must be approved in advance by parliament.
Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis said in parliament that he would stick to his words that the bill was a violation of international law, but only in “strictly defined circumstances”.
However, he expressed optimism about the trade agreement with the EU.
Diplomatic sources told the EU news agency Reuters that if Britain adopts the bill in its current form, Brussels will find it impossible to reach an agreement with London.