Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

EU chief warns that new Brexit delay might be necessary

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on January 31.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

The European Union and Britain will struggle to seal an agreement on trade and other aspects of their future ties after Brexit next year and should consider extending the negotiations beyond 2020, a top EU official has said in an interview.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on January 31.

If it does, it will be the first time a country leaves the world’s biggest trading bloc.

Negotiations between the remaining members and the British government on future trade, fisheries, education and transport relations can only begin after that date and must conclude by the end of 2020.

It seems to me that, on both sides, we should seriously consider whether the negotiations are feasible in such a short time Ursula von der Leyen in an interview with Les Echos

“I am very concerned about how little time we have,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told the French business newspaper Les Echos.

“It seems to me that, on both sides, we should seriously consider whether the negotiations are feasible in such a short time.”

“I think it would be reasonable to take stock in the middle of the year and, if necessary, agree on an extension to the transition period,” Ms von der Leyen said.

bpanews_e83a5190-113e-4832-9ddb-c379b9202023_embedded249105157
Ursula von der Leyen heads the European Commission (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)

As the leader of the executive commission, Ms von der Leyen heads the EU institution responsible for Brexit talks and negotiating trade deals on behalf of member countries.

Such trade pacts routinely take years to complete, and businesses fear that the UK could face a new “no-deal” Brexit scenario at the start of 2021 if questions about whether tariff-free trade with the country’s biggest trading partner remain unanswered.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he would not agree to any delays.

Mr Johnson won a solid parliamentary majority in the general election earlier this month, which helped him push a Brexit withdrawal deal through Parliament.

The Brexit bill contained amendments that bar the Government from extending the transition period beyond 2020.

Under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty rule book, which governs how countries leave the bloc, any new extension to the departure process must be agreed by June 30 2020.

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph