THE German government is urging other EU countries to brace themselves for a “no deal Brexit” – wreaking havoc with trade and compounding the coronavirus economic fallout.
As Taoiseach Leo Varadkar prepares to join EU counterparts for a video-summit tomorrow ((FRIDAY)), news agency reports from Brussels reveal that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government fear a worst outcome from the ending of a no-change transition period on December 31 next. An internal German document casts doubt on Britain’s optimism over chances of an early agreement on its future ties with the bloc.
In a report to the Dáil last week, EU affairs minister, Helen McEntee, said Dublin still hoped for a limited UK-EU deal on trade which would minimise Irish trade devastation. The UK left the European Union on January 31 last and their current EU-relationship is governed by a transition arrangement that keeps previous rules in place while new terms are negotiated.
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has repeatedly said he has no intention of accepting an EU offer to extend the transition by anything up to two years. After talks with EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, on Monday he insisted that a new deal with Brussels could be forged as early as next month.
But the German government document, seen by the news agency Reuters and dated June 15, shows that Berlin expects the negotiations to take longer. The report stressed that the remaining 27 EU states must remain united and not give in to UK last-minute pressures
"From September, the negotiations enter a hot phase," the document reads.
"Britain is already escalating threats in Brussels, wants to settle as much as possible in the shortest possible time and hopes to achieve last-minute success in the negotiations," it continued.
The German foreign affairs department is now convinced the transition deal will not be extended beyond the end of this year, this document indicated. "It is therefore important to preserve the unity of the 27, to continue to insist on parallel progress in all areas (overall package) and to make it clear that there will be no agreement at any price," the document read.
"Therefore, both national and European contingency planning would now have to start in order to be prepared for a no deal 2.0."
The UK finally agreed exit terms last October after another cliff-edge threat by Mr Johnson who became Prime Minister on the back of Brexit last July. The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar helped Mr Johnson broker a late compromise after threats of a no-deal exit.
Berlin officials do not believe the situation was as critical this time around. "The situation is less serious than in 2019, as important regulations, for example for citizens, were sorted out in the withdrawal agreement," the document states.