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President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has given a speech at the European Parliament Plenary on the preparation of the European Council summit on 10–11 December 2020. Speaking on Brexit, President von der Leyen said that the future UK-EU relationship discussions are at a ‘decisive’ stage, reporting ‘genuine progress’ on law enforcement, judicial cooperation, and social security coordination, and an ‘outline of a possible final text’ on goods, services and transport, where pending issues are ‘manageable’. ‘Serious issues’ were identified, however, on level playing field, governance and fisheries, with the EU promising ‘to do all in [its] power to reach an agreement’, but not at any cost. With just weeks until the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020 (IP completion day), the EU has signalled its intention ‘to be creative’, recognising the uncertainty over the outcome of the negotiations, even at this late stage.
As ‘the next days are going to be decisive’ in the negotiations, President von der Leyen indicated that a positive outcome is possible if they ‘negotiate hard and then stick to the compromises found’, but she also stressed: ‘Whatever the outcome, there has to be—and there will be—a clear difference between being a full member of the Union and being just a valued partner.’
The timeline for finalising any agreement has slipped significantly and time is extremely short to complete the necessary procedures for ratification and domestic implementation of a deal on both sides of the Channel. Acknowledging the challenges of the current uncertainty, President von der Leyen noted the EU's preparedness for a no-deal scenario, while reiterating her full trust ‘in the skilful steer’ of EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.
The European Council on 10–11 December 2020 is the last scheduled summit before IP completion day, though special sittings may be arranged if necessary. Details are available here.
Source: Speech by President von der Leyen at the European Parliament Plenary on the preparation of the European Council meeting of 10-11 December
For further detail, see: LNB News 25/11/2020 123.
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