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No light in sight at the end of Brexit tunnel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove (R) and Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Inter-institutional relations and Foresight, Maros Sefcovic (R) with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (C - on video conference) attend the third meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee at the EU headquarters in Brussels on September 28, 2020. / AFP / POOL / JOHN THYS

Though several issues remain to be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, the EU Commissioner states that a trade deal between the EU and UK is still possible before the end of the year Brexit deadline. This comes as multiple rounds of talks have already failed to fully satisfy all sides.

Brussels is adamant that it will not permit Britain to leave the bloc, yet still enjoy the benefits of member states.  It holds firm that a deal can still be reached since ‘where there is a will, there’s a way’, however, it seems that in spite of her optimistic encouragement, EU leaders will not sacrifice EU rights in order to strike a deal.

We want a deal because we think, as neighbours, it would be better...

It is good to have a deal, but not at any price.

The EU Commissioner, Ursula Von Der Layen

Endless departure

After 8 rounds of talks, the EU is still no closer to agreeing to the terms Britain is asking when it comes to a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. Brussels is holding firm that it will not allow Britain to leave the bloc, yet still enjoy the benefits member states.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on his so called ‘friends’ to use common sense when it comes to striking a deal with Britain, however, since the UK decided to leave the EU in 2016, it seems that many of the friends that Johnson was referring to, are now more acquaintances rather than brothers, as they look down on the estranged island that decided to leave the family.

Fishy Business

One of the key sticking points of the trade talks have now moved into the sea, not this time over a virtual border down between Ireland and Britain, but this time, over the access and policing of fishing waters, something that the UK PM wants to see emulate the current Norway style deal the EU shares with the Scandinavian country.  

Officials in the UK claim that Norway holds rolling negotiations with the bloc when it comes to fishing quotas and access, and is hence something that could be conducted in a post Brexit era.

No one questions the UK’s sovereignty in its own waters. We ask for guarantees for our fishermen and fisherwomen who have been sailing in those waters for decades.

The EU Commissioner, Ursula Von Der Layen

However, there is a spanner in the works. French President, Emmanuel Macron has demanded that the EU retain the current status quo when it comes to EU fishing rights, which as things stand, allows the French fishing fleet to enjoy the most beneficial slice of the cake when it comes to fishing in shared UK / EU waters, but is something that appears to be upsetting other EU leaders interested in finally striking a deal with the UK. 

With both Von der Layen and Barnier calling for all sides to stand down from the extremities of the negotiating table, it seems that another tool is needed in dealing with the issue.

No longer law abiding Britain

It seems that the UK will happily break international law when it comes to dealing with Brexit, and is hence why the EU has started legal proceedings against Britain when it comes to the so-called Internal Market BIll, could breach the internationally acclaimed Good Friday Agreement.

But in spite of the bickering going on, one EU leader has emerged as a potential peace dove, especially when it comes to the notion of a Norway style agreement over fishing rights, as Germany’s Angela Merkel has stepped into the mix stating that this could be one way to finally come to an agreement. 

With Merkel appearing to attempt to buffer the rift between France and the UK over fishing rights, could the act by Merkel cause another rift within the EU itself as Germany and France show signs of a difference in opinion when it comes to dealing with the British? 

Where does Britain stand?

It seems that Britain is currently at its weakest point since the referendum took place, with Boris Johnson admitting that every week is a challenge, as Britain sinks ever deeper from the economic impact of Brexit already being felt, as well as the sucker-punch delivered by the Covid-19 virus on the island, 

Add to this the fact that Britain could soon be entering a second lockdown, as Coronavirus cases hit over 12,000 per day in Britain: one could argue that now would be the ideal time for the EU to come together and finally show the UK why leaving the EU was a terribly expensive and costly mistake. 

What is undeniable is that the EU will unlikely allow an internal rift to emerge from the negotiations, and will likely see the more experienced leaders of the EU place into check the more junior members, as the negotiating team of Barnier stand firm on their path, and make sure that any deal that is struck with the UK, will deter any other EU nation from trying to leave in the future, as the EU proves once again, it is better to stand together.


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