LONDON | Mid-October represents the last deadline for concluding a post-Brexit agreement with the European Union, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who, before the opening in London this week of the eighth session of negotiations, repeats that the United Kingdom Uni will not compromise on its independence.
“We are now entering the final phase of our negotiations with the EU,” said Downing Street, the head of the Conservative government, said Monday, raising the pressure before talks resumed on Tuesday.
The UK formally left the EU on January 31, almost four years after a landmark referendum marking the end of almost 50 years of European Union (EU) membership.
But it remains governed by European regulations until the end of the year, while the two sides try to strike a free trade agreement.
“The EU has been very clear about the timing. Me too. There must be an agreement with our European friends by the European Council, on October 15, so that it enters into force by the end of the year ”, at the end of the transition period after the Brexit, emphasizes Boris Johnson.
“It does not make sense to think of deadlines that would go beyond,” he said. “If we can’t come to an agreement by then, I don’t see a free trade agreement between us.”
“We would have a trade agreement with the EU like that of Australia”, much smaller, which would represent, according to him, “a good outcome for the United Kingdom”, which is preparing its customs and port infrastructures for such scenario.
“We will have the freedom to conclude trade agreements with any country in the world. And we will thrive damn, ”he says.
But “an agreement can always be found (…). We will continue to work hard in September to achieve it, ”he continues.
The negotiations stumble in particular on fishing and fair competition conditions.
“Even at this late stage, if the EU is ready to rethink its position, (…) I would be delighted,” concludes Boris Johnson, warning that the UK will not compromise “on the fundamentals that ‘being an independent country means getting there’.
In the absence of an agreement before December 31, the only rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), with their high customs duties and extensive customs controls, would apply. What further weakens economies already hit hard by the pandemic.