Britain says no to extended divorce

London “formally” told the European Union on Friday that it did not want to extend the transitional period after Brexit. A choice that reinforces the fear of a painful interruption in their exchanges.

There will be no transitional period after the end of 2020 in the divorce between the UK and the European Union. Since the British Government has been hammering for months, it will not request an extension of the transitional period after December 31, which he could in theory do until the end of June.

British Prime Minister Michael Gove said on Friday (June 12) that he “officially confirmed” him during a virtual meeting with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic.

“It’s settled,” he insisted on television. “It provides companies with clarity and security to help them prepare.”

Michael Gove “couldn’t have been clearer,” Maros Sefcovic told reporters. “I take it as the final conclusion of this discussion.”

European negotiator Michel Barnier said he had “taken note of the British decision not to extend”. “We must now make progress on the merit,” he warned.

Since leaving the EU on 31 January, London has continued to apply European rules and is negotiating with Brussels on the terms of a new relationship, especially in trade, but without significant progress.

The question of customs duties

Among the most contradictory points of the hoped-for free trade agreement are the guarantees of fair competition demanded by the EU in exchange for a trade agreement without quotas or tariffs to avoid the emergence of an economy that is deregulated at its doorstep.

In the absence of an agreement, the World Trade Organization’s only rules, with their high tariffs, would apply to trade relations between these partners. This would weaken economies already hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

In early June, after a new round of negotiations, the lack of progress was again noted, and the two sides had decided to change gear in the hope of reaching an agreement at the end of October.

This would give the Member States and the UK sufficient time to ratify a possible text before the end of the year.

Progressive customs controls

In order not to penalize companies that have already been exposed to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the British government announced on Friday that customs controls on goods imported from the EU would not be introduced suddenly but in stages during the first six months of 2021.

Despite these assurances, the heads of the Scottish and Welsh governments on Friday wrote a joint letter to Boris Johnson asking the EU to extend the transitional period to support companies.

With AFP and Reuters