Brexit deal may be a bridge too far

2020-12-15 22:27:17

[PhotoIC] Ever since the United Kingdom officially exited the European Union on Jan 31 the two sides have held a series of negotiations on their postBrexit economic relationship.But even with the deadline for the talks on posttransition relation ending on Sunday the UK and the EU remained largely divided on core issues including trade relations fisheries and a level playing field. With increasing possibility of a nodeal Brexit happening Brussels charted an emergency action plan on Thursday to deal with possible chaos in case of a no deal.The stumbling block is the degree of independence the UK feels in its future ties with the EU. Reclaiming sovereignty from the EU is important to the Conservatives and the Boris Johnson government which swept to power on the slogan of take back control. So if the UK lacks such autonomy in the final deal it would be a political thorn in the side of the Conservatives especially Johnson.On the other hand the UKs Brexit requirements make the EU feel cheated as former British Prime Minister David Cameron had assured it the Brexit referendum would not succeed. The EU believes the UK has set a bad example for other member states and only by making the cost of Brexit unbearably high for the UK can it effectively deter other member states from following suit.Moreover with France and Germany scheduled to hold elections in the near future EU issues will spark fierce debates. As the governments in both the countries do not want to incur domestic discontent over Brexit they might raise their demands on the Brexit negotiations and refuse to budge.As part of its plan to tackle the UKs departure without a deal the EU has proposed specific measures. First once it fails to reach a trade agreement with the UK the EUUK trade relationship will be governed by the World Trade Organizations multilateral international framework namely the socalled Australia terms which will greatly raise the trade costs between the two sides.Second due to the lack of bilateral or multilateral agreements on flights and land links and fishery resources allocation with the UK the EU has proposed a package plan including allowing the UK to operate flights and land traffic in exchange for the sharing of fishery resources in the coming year. However the right to allocate fishery resources is one of the UKs main bargaining chips and whether it will agree to it remains to be seen.The deadline for a final deal is fast approaching and there is no sign of either side making concessions but the possibility of a final agreement or a substantial extension of the negotiation on the transition period by making an interim arrangement on relevant issues cannot be ruled out.