Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Member states will leave the trade negotiations to the European Commission and not engage bilaterally with London
- The United Kingdom could look for ways of avoiding a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- The EU would see this as contravening commitments made in the Withdrawal Agreement and adopt a tougher trade stance consequentially.
- Given low levels of trust and time constraints, an extension to the implementation period is a possibility.
- Failure to reach a trade deal could disrupt the deep and comprehensive EU-UK security and defence relationship.
The United Kingdom hopes that the economic consequences of no trade deal and separate member state interests will give London leverage to diverge from EU standards and potentially backtrack on commitments in the Withdrawal Agreement on Northern Ireland.
However, the broad lesson the EU-27 drew from the previous negotiations was that giving the European Commission a mandate and refusing to engage bilaterally worked and they are likely to stick to it. Yet if London makes a significant shift, for example on fisheries, there will be pressure on any holdouts, such as France’s robust position on level playing fields, to fall in line.
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