Brexit Update – With just three weeks to go until the UK leaves the EU, there’s rising concern on the continent about a no-deal becoming the reality.
The risk of a no-deal Brexit “exists” and “we must prepare for it”, French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, said on Friday.
European negotiator Michel Barnier has been in London since the start of the week. He will stay there on Friday for final discussions in the hope of reaching an agreement before the end of the weekend – if not, the EU believes that a treaty cannot be ratified in time by the MEPs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman told reporters on Friday afternoon, warning that London did not intend to accept “an agreement which does not respect fundamental principles of sovereignty.
France will veto a Brexit Deal with too many concessions
The pressure on the negotiations reflects the growing concern by France for seeing the EU granting too many concessions to the UK, in order to avoid a no-deal scenario on December 31.
And as a result, France has threatened to veto the post-Brexit trade deal, which London and Brussels are working hard to conclude in the coming days.
A European summit bringing together the leaders of the 27 states in person is scheduled for 10 December in Brussels.
Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU and the European Commission, is seeking an agreement “at all costs”.
“We will hold out until the last moment, the last second of this process to guarantee unity between us,” European Council President Charles Michel assured on Friday.
A no-deal scenario
Without an agreement to govern their relationship on January 1, the UK and the EU will trade under World Trade Organisation rules. Synonymous with tariffs or quotas, this runs the risk of another economic shock adding to that of the coronavirus pandemic.
Barnier was set to make an update with the member states later on Friday afternoon, but this intervention seemed unlikely by the middle of the day.