Next day the deadline for closing negotiations, set at midnight on Sunday, MEPs now estimate that it will be “impossible” to ratify a possible post-Brexit agreement in time to take effect on January 1.(ADAM BERRY/GETTY IMAGES)
“Political games from Westminster have wasted too much time. It is now impossible for Parliament to assess a deal before the end of the year. We will not rubber-stamp any text, it is too important”, said the leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, on Twitter.
Political games from Westminster have wasted too much time. It is now impossible for Parliament to assess a deal before the end of the year. We will not rubber-stamp any text, it is too important. As the only directly elected EU body, we should not rush our decision. #Brexit
— Manfred Weber (@ManfredWeber) December 21, 2020
Believing that there is no need to “rush” a decision on a possible text, he promises that the Chamber will continue to be a “constructive partner” and mentions “other procedures” for a possible treaty to enter into force, only ten days away from the final break between EU and the UK.
An agreement reached in extremis could, for example, be applied provisionally on 1 January, with ratification a posteriori by the European Parliament. But, according to several European sources, such a scenario is technically possible only if a deal is found before Christmas, otherwise a “no deal”, at least for a few days, seems inevitable. “There will actually be a ‘no deal’, technical or not, but on January 1st there will be a big tent, we have to prepare for that”, also warned the French Nathalie Loiseau (Renew, liberals).
The group of MEPs accompanying the negotiations for the European Parliament met at 8:45 am GMT “to assess the situation and discuss the next steps”, said its chairman, German David McAllister (PPE). Negotiation, which comes up in particular in the thorny issue of European fishermen’s access to British waters, should resume this Monday.
A trade agreement must be closed before the United Kingdom – which officially left the EU on January 31 – leaves the European single market and the customs union on December 31 at 23:00 GMT. Otherwise, trade between the EU and London will be done in accordance with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), synonymous with customs duties and quotas, with serious consequences for economies already shaken by the pandemic.