Germany is calling on the EU to get ready with contingency plans for Brexit “no-deal 2.0”, a leaked document obtained by Reuters suggests, stating that member states should not accede to British plans for trade and security deals “at any price”.
“It is therefore important to preserve the unity of the 27, to continue to insist on parallel progress in all areas (overall package) and to make it clear that there will be no agreement at any price. Therefore, both national and European contingency planning would now have to start in order to be prepared for a no deal 2.0”, it reads.
Although the prime minister said he believes a deal can be finalised during the summer months, the document dated 15 June claims that Berlin has earmarked September as the key month in post-Brexit trade talks.
“From September, the negotiations enter a hot phase. Britain is already escalating threats in Brussels, wants to settle as much as possible in the shortest possible time, and hopes to achieve last-minute success in the negotiations”, it says.
The document also touches upon the EU’s initial plans for a no-deal Brexit before the UK’s expected departure on 29 March 2019 covering a wealth of areas from customs checks to aviation to prepare the ground for Britain’s smooth transfer, so that it wouldn’t harm the bloc.
“The situation is less serious than in 2019, as important regulations – for example, for citizens – were sorted out in the withdrawal agreement”, the German document reads.
EU officials believe the real deadline for a deal is 31 October, after which any accord would need to be ratified by the European parliament. Among the most contentious issues still up for discussion are an agreement on “level playing field” conditions, and hence an alternative to the single market in order to ensure fair competition between British and EU businesses, as well as rights to fish in UK waters, and police and justice cooperation.
Another stumbling block is security and defence cooperation, which Britain has so far been turning down. However, regarding the latter, reports have emerged citing British Lords warning the UK could lose access to Europe's crucial real-time criminal database unless it reaches a comprehensive Brexit deal with European partners on security and justice - which is feared could lead to the UK turning into a haven for criminals.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier lamented earlier this month that he did not “understand” the British stance, with the bloc’s ambassador to the UK, João Vale de Almeida, telling Bloomberg that the member states remained open if Downing Street changed their mind.
“We put forward a proposal for the negotiating table, as we call them, on security and defence [and] foreign policy issues at large”, he said. “The UK has chosen not to open that table of discussion”.
After a video meeting on Monday between Johnson and EU institution leaders including Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, the sides voiced their commitment to “intensify” talks in July and if possible, reach “an early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement”.
Both Downing Street and Brussels are understood to be seeking to secure an early agreement, and the European council president, Charles Michel, will present the latest on the talks during a video conference on Friday.