EU Commission Chief Raises Concerns Over Brexit Deadline
The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has expressed concerns over the ability to roll out Brexit in the timeline sought by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Following a landslide general election victory by Mr. Johnson’s Conservative party on December 12th, the UK is due to leave the European Union on January 31st.
Following it’s exit from the EU, a transitional period will exist until the end of 2020 to allow time for negotiation on future trade links. Negotiations are due to begin in February.
Ms. von der Leyen raised her concerns over the length of the timeline in an interview published today in French newspaper, Les Echos.
She said, ‘I am very worried about the short time available. It is not only a question of negotiating a free trade agreement, but many other subjects. It seems to me that on both sides we should seriously ask ourselves if all these negotiations are possible in such a short time.’
Voicing her concerns, she also raised the possibility of a mid-year review of the transition period with the potential for an extension if one were required.
‘I think it would be reasonable to take stock mid-year and, if necessary, to agree on an extension of the transition period.’
Under the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, there is room for the UK to seek an extension on the transition period of up to two years.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, however, is adamant that there will be no extension.
The Withdrawal Bill is currently working its way through a number of stages in the UK Parliament.
The Prime Minister is also working to introduce legislation that will legally prohibit Government from extending the implementation period beyond December 31st, 2020.
The Bill, including this proposed legislation comfortably passed its second stage vote in the House of Commons last week.
It will move forward for its final stages of debate in the House of Commons and the House of Lords in January and if successful will become law.
When asked about UK access to the EU single market post-Brexit, should the UK wish to move away from European standards, Ms. von der Leyen said, ‘My preference is for a mechanism which would guarantee comparable production conditions on both sides, because I deeply believe in the need to maintain a good relationship with our neighbours. But the principle of equality is of the utmost importance to us.’
She said, ‘It has been 3 and a half years that we have proven our ability to remain united, to speak with one voice, to be clear about our values and principles. The EU can count on its single market, on its 750 free trade agreements. We have enough to promote our economy. And we would love to include our British friends in this environment.’
(Image by UMP Photos via Creativecommons.org)