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UK Government Shows Goodwill in Last-Line Brexit Negotiations

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The British government says it is ready to delete the most controversial elements of its controversial Internal Market Bill.

 

That law – which has not yet been definitively adopted – would unilaterally allow the United Kingdom to disregard some of the obligations arising from the 2019 Brexit deal. The European Commission has, therefore already opened an infringement procedure against London.

The announcement by the London government may not have come by chance today just before Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a telephone consultation with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The conversation started at 5 pm and lasted 90 minutes. It is not clear whether the discussion will resume tonight.

The talks are about the possibility of a trade agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom. Time is running out because if there is no agreement, we risk a “hard Brexit” in early January with import tariffs and customs formalities that will complicate the economic fabric across the Channel.

European chief negotiator Michel Barnier said earlier today that Wednesday is the deadline for an agreement. That still has to be approved by the British parliament and that of the EU.

In its communication, London praises its constructive cooperation with the EU. “Negotiations are continuing, and final decisions are expected in the coming days,” it said. If those negotiations lead to solutions for the outstanding points of discussion, London says it is prepared to adjust the Internal Market Bill.

As it stands, the bill violates the protocol to avoid a new hard border between the Republic of Ireland and British Northern Ireland. That protocol is an integral part of the withdrawal agreement that made political Brexit possible at the beginning of this year.

The accord has the status of an international treaty, and with its controversial law the UK threatens to violate its legal obligations, the Commission argues. Boris Johnson’s government now wants to meet that criticism.

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