EU speaks of “breach of trust”: British reject Brexit ultimatum


The EU gives the British until the end of September to overturn the controversial “Internal Market Act”. Brussels complains that this constitutes a violation of the existing agreement. But London sticks to its line. What does this mean for further talks on a trade agreement?

Great Britain remains tough in the dispute with the EU over the plans to unilaterally change the Brexit treaty. The controversial passages would remain in the planned internal market law, said the responsible State Secretary Michael Gove after talks with the EU. An ultimatum set by Brussels to move away from the breach of contract is now in vain. EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic had set a deadline of the end of September – Wednesday – to withdraw the controversial clauses.

After the UK left the EU at the end of January, the EU is currently struggling on two fronts: On the one hand, a trade agreement is to be in place by the end of October to regulate economic relations from 2021 onwards. On the other hand, Brussels is outraged that London wants to override the exit agreement with the Single Market Act.

Commission vice Sefcovic called the plans a “breach of trust”. Nevertheless, negotiations on the next agreement should continue as planned. The last round for the time being is scheduled for Tuesday to Friday. Gove affirmed: “These clauses will stay in the law”. This is necessary as a “safety net” and is supported by Parliament. The British House of Commons is due to vote again on Tuesday.

Agreement important for EU companies

The proposed trade agreement is of paramount importance for EU companies. At the end of the year, the UK is also leaving the EU internal market and the customs union after a transition phase. Without a contract, there is a risk of tariffs and other major trade barriers. The business association Business Europe sounded the alarm. “We are sleepwalking into the abyss,” warned General Director Markus Beyrer. “Moving from full market integration to a no-deal scenario would have devastating consequences for companies already grappling with the effects of Covid-19.” Beyrer called on both sides to compromise.

The SPD politician Achim Post emphasized: “It is perfectly clear that Great Britain must adhere to the contracts and agreements that have already been concluded with the EU, including the provisions on the status of Northern Ireland.” Nevertheless, he did not rule out a successful negotiation. “We want a fair partnership agreement that is mutually beneficial.” The FDP European politician Michael Georg Link made a similar statement. The EU now needs “a lot of strategic patience”. “If the EU broke off negotiations, it would only play into the hands of the hardliners in London.” The EU should continue to negotiate, but make the conclusion dependent on the relevant clauses of the Internal Market Act being deleted.

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