A possible Brexit trade pact with the UK cannot be ratified in time before the end of the year, according to the European Parliament – even if a breakthrough were to be achieved now. This was said by CDU MEP David McAllister to the German Press Agency after an agreement failed to materialize over the weekend. On Monday, parliament’s Brexit experts plan to discuss what options remain.
Negotiations without end
After leaving the EU at the end of January, the UK will also leave the single market and customs union on 31. December, the UK will also leave the single market and the customs union, thus completing the Brexit economically as well. The desired treaty should avoid tariffs and trade barriers. But negotiators from the European Union and the United Kingdom struggled in vain over the weekend. Negotiations are to continue on Monday, both sides said Sunday evening.
This breaks a deadline set by the European Parliament: Only if a finished agreement was available by midnight on Sunday, it could still be officially confirmed in a very shortened procedure. "Unfortunately, there is still no clarity whether both sides can agree on a deal", said McAllister. "Therefore, there can be no formal approval procedure in the European Parliament before the end of the year."
No ratification in time
The SPD Brexit expert in the European Parliament, Bernd Lange, also stressed: "The normal parliamentary procedure for an agreement is no longer possible and no ratification until 31. December 2020. Now we have to think very objectively about how to deal with the situation."
Three variants are now conceivable, but from McAllister’s point of view all of them are legally difficult: If an agreement is still reached, it could be applied ahead of time. Decisions are made by the EU Council of Ministers without parliamentary involvement. Green deputies alternatively call for an extension of the deadline for negotiations and ratification. The third option would be a kind of technical time-out around the turn of the year – a "Stopping the clock". If all this fails, there would be an unregulated exit. The business community fears upheaval if this happens.
Further significant differences
It is completely unclear whether the two sides will still come to terms on content. EU negotiator Michel Barnier spoke on Sunday of a "decisive moment". The EU still wants a fair, reciprocal and balanced agreement. From British government circles it hailed on Sunday evening: "Negotiations remain difficult, and there are still significant differences."
Central point of contention was still the future fishing rights of EU fishermen in British waters. Great Britain has rejected a compromise offer from the EU, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur learned from negotiating circles. However, the EU’s Custodian States were not ready to go any further. In addition, there are still very controversial points on the ie of a level playing field, it added.