Will the Brexit be extended beyond October?

Hard Brexit is imminent : The EU no longer sees any chance for a longer Brexit transition phase

According to the EU Commission, the extension of the Brexit transition phase beyond the end of the year is off the table. Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said that Great Britain reiterated its no to an extension of the deadline at the meeting of the responsible body on Friday. "In my opinion, this is definitely the end of the debate."

The pressure to reach an agreement on future relations between Great Britain and the EU by the end of the year is increasing. Great Britain left the EU at the end of January, but remains in a transitional phase in the EU internal market and in the customs union. The EU was in favor of extending the deadline to allow more time for negotiations. However, Great Britain has been opposing it strictly for months. If no agreement is reached in the transition phase, a hard economic break with tariffs and other trade barriers is expected.

Sefcovic said that he himself had emphasized that the EU would remain open to an extension. But British negotiator Michael Gove couldn't have been more explicit in his rejection, added Sefcovic. Gove justified this with the fact that the British citizens had been given this as a promise in the election campaign. He had made the position of the British Government very, very clear.

British negotiator makes rejection clear

Gove said on Twitter that he had "formally confirmed" in an interview with Sefcovic that Great Britain would not extend the transition period. "We will regain control on January 1, 2021 and regain our political and economic independence," wrote Gove.

The exit agreement from last October, with which the island left the Brussels Club at the end of January, provided for an agreement on future cooperation by the end of June. Declared an illusion by trade experts even then, questioned several times by EU negotiator Michel Barnier, the date remains irrevocable, claims London's delegation leader David Frost: "We will not apply for an extension and we will not comply with a corresponding request from the EU."

The mood between the Englishman and the Frenchman seems cool, almost frosty. Following the latest video round of negotiations last week, Barnier accused London of falling short of concessions already made; From Frost's environment it was said that the EU ideas were "not appropriate for a free trade agreement".

Apparently, the corona pandemic has by no means made those responsible on both sides more willing to compromise, perhaps even on the contrary. Great Britain, the Paris OECD predicts an economic slump of 11.5 percent, almost as bad as Italy (11.3). In contrast, the forecast for Germany (6.6) is comparatively tame.

Convinced Brexiteers are not frightened by such prospects. And neither the government nor the opposition in London want to know anything about an extension of the transition period. Although the Brexit country continues to enjoy all the advantages of the internal market, it must also comply with all Community regulations without any say in the matter and, as before, pay around ten billion euros annually into the Brussels treasury.

Without compromise on both sides, there will only be a hard Brexit

Both sides seem increasingly to come to terms with the fact that an agreement will not be possible until autumn at the earliest, possibly at a summit in October. Then Germany will hold the presidency. Its ambassador in Brussels recently urged the British to adopt a more realistic approach at an event organized by the EPC think tank. "You cannot maintain full sovereignty and achieve unrestricted access to the internal market at the same time," said Michael Clauss.

Conversely, the responsible London minister and former Brexit foreman Michael Gove argues that the 2016 referendum was “about our sovereignty”. Therefore, from the British point of view, even only partial supervision by the European Court of Justice over the future agreements is “out of the question”, affirmed Frost.

While Brussels would like an overall agreement, the British want to conclude their own agreements for topics such as fisheries, police cooperation or the status of Northern Ireland.

Compromises could certainly be found if only both sides deviated from their maximum demands. Hardliners such as France and Spain will hardly be able to secure their fishing fleets access to the particularly rich fish waters around the island to the extent that they have done, as stipulated in Barnier's negotiating mandate.

Conversely, London will have to accept a limited role for the ECJ if it is to continue to benefit from the tried and tested police and judicial cooperation.

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