EU leaders could hold emergency Brexit summit in November

James Crisp
·3-min read
EU leaders including Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, Angela Merkel, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission and France's Emmanuel Macron are meeting in Brussels today.  - Shutterstock
EU leaders including Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, Angela Merkel, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission and France's Emmanuel Macron are meeting in Brussels today. - Shutterstock

European Union leaders are expected to hold an emergency summit in mid-November to give their political blessing to the free trade agreement with Britain. 

Senior EU diplomats targeted meetings in Berlin on November 15 and 16 as the moment heads of state and government would give their blessing to the deal,if trade negotiations with Britain continue past Friday and are successful. 

EU leaders meet in Brussels today to hold their first detailed discussions on Brexit this year. The European Council summit was Boris Johnson’s deadline for a deal to be “in sight” but that deadline has been missed. 

The Prime Minister said yesterday he would delay a decision on whether to carry out his threat to walk from negotiations until Friday after the two day summit.

He told Charles Michel, the European Council president and Ursula von der Leyen, he was disappointed more progress had not been made. 

Talks are stalled on the three major obstacles of fisheries, the level playing field guarantees and especially subsidy law, and the enforcement of the deal. 

EU leaders will hold lengthy Brexit discussions this afternoon and evening, with each expected to take the floor after a briefing by Michel Barnier. 

Fishing nations, most vocally France, are anxious their fishermen will be sacrificed to get the zero tariff deal on goods done by satisfying UK demands for significant increases in quota in British waters. 

Ultimately, they are expected to call for negotiations to continue and for the UK to "make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible" in the latest draft summit conclusions, which are subject to change. 

Earlier drafts of the conclusions called for talks to be "intensified", which could have satisfied Mr Johnson's demand for round-the-clock talks.  

Leaders will also call for no deal preparations to be stepped up and voice their “concern” at the lack of progress, according to leaked summit conclusions. 

Brussels diplomats expect trade negotiations to continue at least until the bloc’s end of month deadline for an agreement. 

Some suggested that, if necessary, the trade negotiations could stretch to the first week of November. 

One senior EU diplomat said, “I don’t know if this can be done in two weeks.”

“The end of the first week of November is probably the outermost deadline,” another said. 

European capitals’ representatives in Brussels said that the deal could be backed about a week later at an EU-China summit on November 15 or an informal meeting of the bloc’s leaders on November 16.  Both events are in Berlin because Germany holds the six month rotating Presidency of the EU. 

“Everything must be decided between October 15 and mid-November,” France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a committee of French MPs earlier this week. 

Any later than mid-November would begin to put unacceptable time pressure on the European Parliament’s process to ratify the deal, The agreement must be ratified before the deadline of the end of the transition period on December 31. 

If that legal deadline is missed, the UK would leave the Single Market and Customs Union on January 1 without a deal. That would mean Britain trading with the EU on less lucrative WTO terms that include tariffs and quotas. 

A senior EU official said that a special summit was not justified if the negotiations stayed deadlocked. 

“If an agreement is reached, then we will need to see what procedure we need to validate that agreement, but at the moment I'm not going to speculate further.” 

The Goldman Sachs investment bank this morning predicted a “thin” zero-tariff trade deal would be struck in early November. 

Portable toilets may be installed alongside roads in Kent should lorry drivers get stuck in congestion following the end of the Brexit transition period, the Government said yesterday.

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