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On 17 December 2020, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, assessed the state of play in the future UK-EU relationship talks. Ringing alarms bells over the ‘serious situation’, but recognising the need to continue the negotiations in order to avoid a no-deal outcome, the UK and EU leaders agreed to remain in close contact. The Prime Minister warned that ‘unless the EU position changed substantially’, a no-deal scenario at the end of the transition period is seen as ‘very likely’, with the UK and EU trading under ‘Australian-style’ terms (ie without a deal). The Commission President described the outstanding issues as ‘very challenging’. However, with near-agreement on the majority of the legal text, negotiators were instructed to pursue talks and see whether a final agreement is possible, even at the ‘few hours’ left.
• GOV.UK—Press release: Prime Minister’s call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: 17 December 2020
• European Commission—Statement: by President von der Leyen after her phone call with UK Prime Minister Johnson
• European Commission—Speech: Discours de Michel Barnier en séance plénière du Parlement européen
• Future Relationship with the European Union Committee—Progress of the negotiations on the UK’s Future Relationship with the EU, 17 December 2020
For further detail, see: LNB News 18/12/2020 152.
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