In case you might have forgotten with all the other crises happening in the world, Brexit is still moving forward in the UK. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the negotiations with the EU have been slow and fraught with contention on both sides. Now, it seems as though those negotiations might be breaking down completely.
Earlier this week, Angela Merkel announced that she would not discuss Brexit during an EU summit for ambassadors. Chancellor Merkel, who is the president of the EU council, believes that the lack of “any tangible progress” means that there is no point to continue debating about Brexit. She removed the item from the summit agenda.
Representatives from other EU countries spoke out against the move, with one ambassador stating, “We have had the whole summer completely wasted, a cabinet that doesn’t understand how the negotiations work, a prime minister who, I think, doesn’t understand how the negotiations work – because he is under the wrong impression that he can pull off negotiating at the 11th hour.”
The 11th hour might be sooner than anyone expected. On Friday, Merkel announced that talks would soon come to end.
“The crucial weeks are now approaching in which we have to clarify the future relationship between Great Britain and the EU,” Merkel told reporters.
What does that mean for the negotiations? With no more chances to extend the transition period, it puts more pressure on the UK to either cooperate with the EU or to leave without making a deal.
If the latter happens, it could have disastrous results for the economy. The necessary agreement involves hundreds of pages, covering everything from tariffs on goods to movement across borders.
Merkel also warned that the EU needed to prepare for a “no deal” Brexit.
“To put it mildly, progress in the negotiations has been very limited,” Merkel told the German Bundestag, adding: “I will continue to press for a good solution. But we in the EU and also in Germany must and should prepare for the event that an agreement is not reached after all.”
The transition period, set by Boris Johnson, will end in December. If the UK and the EU can’t negotiate the complicated trade agreement needed before then, it will trigger a “no deal” exit from the European Union.