The German Chancellor wants Boris Johnson to be more flexible so she can convince her fellow European Union to support a compromise. The veteran le
The German Chancellor wants Boris Johnson to be more flexible so she can convince her fellow European Union to support a compromise. The veteran leader will play an influential role in the remaining Brexit talks after she today assumed the role as head of the EU’s rotating presidency. Trade talks between the bloc and the UK are deemed as one of the top priorities over the six-month period, according to Mrs Merkel’s ambassador in Brussels.
Michael Cluass said: “We’ve got two mega issues to deal with, and neither of them can be postponed.”
He added: “Either the EU will succeed in negotiating a treaty that will shape relations with the UK in a good way, or we will have a rough landing on January 1, 2021, which would be very similar to hard Brexit.
“But it always takes two to tango… We’ll know in a few weeks’ time whether we can make progress at the negotiating table – or whether ideology will triumph.”
After five negotiation rounds, many conducted virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, the two sides have failed to reach any substantial agreements.
The EU has refused to budge on its hardline demands for continued access to Britain’s fishing waters and a regulatory level-playing field, with a role for the European Court of Justice.
Mr Clauss said: “The 27 won’t accept anything that would bring unfair competition into our house.
“Our task is to keep the 27 together. Michel Barnier is negotiating, his mandate allows sufficient flexibility.”
He added that Mr Barnier, the bloc’s chief negotiator, had asked his British counterparts to take a “more realistic approach” to the talks.
Germany believes Brexit talks could go on beyond the summer deadline set by Downing Street.
Some in Berlin are even preparing for a deal to be wrapped by as late as November, but any later would be impossible because of the ratification process.
Mr Clauss said: “At the end of July, we will take stock again and see where we stand.
“Our expectation was that these negotiations would not start before the beginning of September.
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Mr Barnier yesterday said: “We now know that the transition period will not be extended.
“The EU was open to an extension, but the UK refused. It is the UK’s choice.”
The Frenchman will continue holding talks with David Frost, the Prime Minister’s chief negotiator with the EU, in Brussels this week.