Germany Says ‘Standard’ UK-EU Trade Deal Can Be Done by 2020

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German officials said on Wednesday that the EU could negotiate a basic free-trade agreement with the UK within the proposed transition period.

“We have already shown that you can negotiate a lot in a short time if you set yourself clear goals,” the official said in comments reported by POLITICO.

He added that it would be “possible” so long as both sides stuck to a template based on a current EU trade deal and that more complex deals would be worked out afterwards.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that should the UK leave the EU on January 31st, he will not extend the transition period — during which the bloc and Britain will negotiate a future relationship — beyond the cut-off date of December 2020.

“As far as the trade agreement is concerned, I believe it is evident that what is known in Brussels as an off-the-shelf agreement — in other words, a standard agreement that has already been negotiated in another context — can be negotiated relatively quickly with the United Kingdom,” he said.

A senior diplomat from another EU country supported this assessment, saying that it was “feasible” to have “at least a basic” trade deal within 11 months.

— Barnier says it would be “unrealistic” to expect a trade deal in 11 months —

The report comes as leaked audio revealed Brussels’ Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that it would be “unrealistic” to expect a deal could be done by 2021 and suggested that negotiations could drag on until 2023.

Audio reported by The Independent on Wednesday exposed Mr Barnier privately telling a group of senior MEPs in Brussels this week: “It is unrealistic that a global negotiation can be done in 11 months, so we can’t do it all. We will do all we can to get what I call the ‘vital minimum’ to establish a relationship with the UK if that is the time scale.”

Mr Barnier added that unless there was a continuation of EU rules for another two years, the UK might not agree on a deal and the result would be trading with the bloc on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.

“If there is no extension, we will still have a few months to achieve what I would describe as the minimum necessary for the economy and security or to prepare for a cliff edge… Either we have a trade agreement, or we will be in the WTO framework,” the chief negotiator said.

While the remarks made headlines in the media on Wednesday, they are not entirely new in substance. Mr Barnier had reportedly said two weeks ago that the bloc will prioritise negotiating a deal within Johnson’s timeframe but that it would be basic. In October, he said that a No Deal 2.0 was still a possibility.

In fact, obsessive Remainer Tony Blair has said that a No Deal 2.0 is the “likely outcome” of trade negotiations. The neo-liberal former prime minister said the UK’s interest in breaking free of EU regulations to become more globally competitive conflicts with Eurocrats’ demands that Brexit Britain retains level playing field rules.


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