Von der Leyen: UK trade deal may not be possible by end of 2020

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier | Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images

Von der Leyen: UK trade deal may not be possible by end of 2020

Commission chief says she is ‘very worried’ about limited time available.

By

12/27/19, 11:19 AM CET

Updated 12/27/19, 3:57 PM CET

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen questioned whether it would be possible to strike a trade deal with the U.K before the end of the Brexit transition period.

In an interview with Les Echos, von der Leyen said she is “very worried” about the limited time to negotiate a trade deal with the U.K.

“It seems to me that on both sides we should seriously ask ourselves if all these negotiations are possible in such a short time. 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.

The U.K. is hoping for an EU trade deal to be agreed during its transition period, which is set to run from the start of February until the end of 2020, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will not extend negotiations beyond that date.

In an interview with Spiegel magazine also published Friday, Von der Leyen emphasized the biggest concern is “the mass of issues that need to be negotiated” to prevent a cliff-edge scenario on January 1, 2021.

“After all, it is not only trade policy that is at stake but also security issues or fishing rights, to name just a few examples. That is why we want to start by talking about those issues where, without an agreement, the greatest damage is likely to be done, because there are no international rules that would take effect in the event of hard Brexit,” she said.

She also indicated that Brussels officials are ready to put Brexit behind them. “For the EU, things must now move on. Brexit has cost a lot of political energy. Just think of the many nights in the European Council where Brexit was discussed rather than important issues such as climate, migration or the deepening of the internal market,” she said.

When it comes to a future trade deal, Von der Leyen told Les Echos that countries that want to access the EU single market “must accept its common principles and values,” or else face barriers.

The head of the European Parliament David Sassoli echoed these views in an interview with the Berliner Morgenpost published Friday: “It is clear that the advantages of EU membership cannot be obtained from outside. Nor will we allow an arrangement in which Great Britain has full access to the internal market, but at the same time could undermine the high social, labor law and ecological standards,” he said.

This article was updated. 

Authors:
Vincent Manancourt 

and

Hans von der Burchard 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *