Ursula von der Leyen sidelines Barnier and vows to inject fresh momentum into Brexit talks

Ursula von der Leyen sidelines Barnier and vows to inject fresh momentum into Brexit talks

The bloc’s most senior officials got together ahead of the so-called high-level meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss their strategy. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Brussels would be ready to negotiate around the clock in order to strike a Brexit deal with Britain. Writing on Twitter, the top eurocrat said: “The EU is ready to intensify the talks, we are available 24/7.

“Let’s inject fresh momentum into the negotiations.”

Council President Charles Michel and Parliament President David Sassoli will also attend the virtual talks later this afternoon.

They have heeded warnings from Downing Street that the UK expects a deal to be concluded before the autumn.

A UK Government spokesman said: “The high-level meeting was always envisaged as a moment to push the negotiations forward.

“We now need to get this resolved and deliver certainty for businesses at home and in the EU as soon as possible.”

The two sides are still both at loggerheads over future access to Britain’s fishing waters, the regulatory level-playing field and a future role for the European Court of Justice.

But UK sources are hopeful they can strike up a “political understanding” with the bloc as negotiating efforts are ramped up in the coming weeks.

Amid threats of no deal from Mr Johnson, Brussels has accelerated its own preparations for a new relationship based on WTO terms.

Nathalie Loiseau, a former French Europe minister to Emmanuel Macron, told the Today programme: “We are ready either for an agreement or no deal and we are getting prepared more activity to a no deal considering the circumstances.”

The Prime Minister still wants a deal that maintains tariff-free access to EU markets but has declared the country has nothing to fear by trading on Australian-style terms with the bloc.

The WTO has backed the UK and EU to conclude a deal before the end of the year.

Its director-general Roberto Azevedo told the BBC there was a “good chance that agreement will be reached”.

He added: “It’s going to be tough; there was never any doubt about that. But if the political will is there, if people realise that a no-deal scenario is much less than optimal, I’m pretty confident that negotiators could do this in a reasonable way with a reasonable time frame.”

The WTO has forecast that global trade could slump by a third because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Azevedo said: “The less disruption the better, the less turbulence the better, and less turbulence is the closest to where you were before. So if you can maintain the degree of integration and relationship that you had before Brexit, it is less traumatic than if you have to go to WTO terms.”

He said world trade terms were “not a catastrophe” but warned they “will impose a number of adjustments and those can be painful, particularly for some sectors”.

Published at Mon, 15 Jun 2020 10:35:00 +0000