Will the “no deal” be avoided?
London believes it has received sufficient assurances from Brussels to give a new chance to discussions to escape a potentially devastating post-Brexit absence.
The United Kingdom, after nearly a week spent passing the buck with Brussels, has therefore agreed to resume intensive trade negotiations with the European Union on Thursday.
This resumption of dialogue is linked to a call between their negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier, the third this week.
A sprint is now opening to bridge the gap between them on essential issues such as fishing or the alignment of standards.
Europeans believe that an agreement must be concluded before the end of October to apply on January 1, at the end of the transition period following their historic divorce on January 31.
European negotiators in London from Thursday
"Clearly, significant differences remain between our positions on the most difficult subjects but we are ready, with the EU, to see if it is possible to bring them closer during intensive discussions", indicated a spokesperson for the Prime Minister. Minister Boris Johnson in a statement.
"It is quite possible that the negotiations will fail," he warned.
Brexit: what will this historic divorce between the United Kingdom and the European Union change?
The Commission immediately announced that a team of negotiators would leave for London on Thursday and should stay there until Sunday.
Then they will take place in person or by videoconference, depending on what is decided.
They are scheduled on a daily basis, weekends included and on the basis of legal texts, as London wanted without waiting for a compromise in principle.
Barnier ready to seek "the necessary compromises"
Already difficult, the post-Brexit discussions escalated last Thursday.
At the top, the 27 demanded concessions from London to reach an agreement applicable next year, when their rules cease to apply on British territory.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson then declared the talks "over" and asked his country to prepare for a "no deal", a potentially devastating prospect for economies already shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Brexit: the fear of a "no deal"
London had however left the door "ajar", saying it was waiting for a "fundamental change in approach" from the Europeans to resume dialogue.
The rapprochement took place in several stages.
On Monday, Michel Barnier said that the EU remained "available to intensify" discussions, for the first time "on the basis of legal texts" without waiting for the conclusion of the discussions, a major request from London.
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In front of MEPs on Wednesday morning, he said he was ready to seek “the necessary compromises, on each side”, a gesture immediately noted “with interest” by Downing Street.
"Any future agreement will be made with respect for the decision-making autonomy of the European Union and with respect for British sovereignty," he also promised, speaking to MEPs.
He judged, "despite the difficulties", an agreement still "within reach".
Discussions still stumble on three subjects: Europeans' access to fish-bearing British waters, the guarantees demanded in London in terms of competition, and how to settle disputes in the future agreement.
Also before MEPs on Wednesday, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, criticized London for wanting to access the single European market "while being able to deviate from our standards and regulations, when it suits him".
“We can't have the butter, the money of the butter, and the smile of the dairyman,” he said.
Without an agreement, trade between the two parties will be governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) from January 1, synonymous with high customs duties.
Even in the event of a compromise avoiding this sudden rupture, companies must prepare for time-consuming steps to export and comply with the respective standards.
The companies were not really reassured by a telephone exchange Tuesday with the government, a discussion between 250 leaders and the Prime Minister which revealed strong tensions, according to the British press.
Several participants denounced a "terrible call" and "incredibly disrespectful of their concerns", in which Boris Johnson allegedly claimed that the novel coronavirus pandemic had created "too much apathy" for companies to be ready, according to the BBC.