After nearly a year of difficult talks on a trade deal, it is the negotiators’ turn again. On Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, decided that the two camps would continue to negotiate with one another in order to negotiate an agreement “despite strenuous negotiations”. What is actually preventing an agreement? These are the three stumbling blocks.
How many fishermen in British waters
Without a doubt, the most commonly reported problem is fishing. In the current situation, all European fishermen are allowed to fish in all EU waters. These agreements expire in three weeks.
“Without new agreements there will be a hard border in the middle of the North Sea. If the British say that we are no longer allowed to fish in their waters, together with the French and even the Spanish we only have one stamp to fish.” Johan Nooitgedagt, Chairman of the Dutch Fisheries Association, opposite Kup.nl.
For the British, fishing is mainly symbolic. With slogans like Take back control Brexit advocates in the UK have been insisting on their sovereignty for some time. You see the withdrawal of control of British waters as part of a sovereign state.
The word sovereignty is also widely used when referring to agreements on competition rules. Now all EU Member States, including the UK, adhere to the same state aid rules, as well as environmental, safety and labor standards. These agreements also expire on January 1st.
If Britain wants to trade freely with the EU again, Brussels wants the British to adhere to the same rules again. This will prevent the British from gaining access to the European single market without applying lower standards and without competing European member states.
Britain is accused of wanting it both ways: on the one hand, it wants full access to the internal market again, but refuses to commit (or chain, as the British say) to European standards for the time being. The British believe that as a sovereign nation they should be able to set their own rules.
The most boring of the three. This pain point concerns the way in which the agreements made will be enforced in the future.
The EU wants to be able to impose sanctions if, for example, the UK deviates from the above standards. This would of course also apply the other way round. Then the question arises as to which institution should decide on possible disputes. For example, the British don’t want the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to do this.