What does it mean "to go the extra mile"? That's the distance Boris Johnson and the European Commission chief have promised to travel over next days. Will the road take them to deal or no-deal? And who will compromise on what to get there? #Brexit /1
EU contacts close to the talks say both sides are being constructive. They insist negotiations aren't simply continuing because neither the EU, nor the government want to be blamed in a no-deal scenario and prefer not to walk away first. /2
EU is clear: No deal is a big deal. It would have a dramatic impact on livelihoods both sides of the Channel . As long as talks aren't going backwards, Brussels says it would be “irresponsible” not to go for it in talks /3
Both sides note tentative progress on the 3 main remaining sticking points. They say political intervention is still be needed. On fishing, EU whispers suggest a kick-can-down-road fudged compromise might be found (though not settled yet), involving considerable EU concessions /4
The governance of the overall deal is being worked on in detail. V broad brushstroke: what actions could be slapped with which sanctions, and who decides. Competition regulations - aka the level playing field - are still a big issue /5
And what are we to make of the prime minister sounding a whole lot gloomier on Sunday about the prospects of a deal, than the European Commission, carrying out the negotiations on the EU's behalf?
Remember: what's said in front of the cameras is only part of the picture. /6
We aren't behind the scenes in negotiating room or on closed calls between Mr Johnson and the EU Commission Chief. There will have to be trade-offs between the two sides but ultimately neither the government, nor the EU, will sign up to a deal they can't claim as a victory. /7
For the PM, that means being able to say the deal respects post-Brexit national sovereignty; that it allows the UK to make and take its own decisions. And that the U.K. refused to sign a new ‘Brussels rule book’. /8
Brussels wants to be able to confidently reassure the 27 EU leaders that the deal protects the single market and European businesses in it from what they feared could be unfair UK competition /9
The EU assumption - if there is a deal - is that many in the UK will want to trumpet what one Brussels insider called "a Great British Victory" and to point to EU concessions, real or alleged. /10
“If that narrative helps get a deal over the line in the UK, then it's worth it," is the EU attitude. In Brussels I’m told: “Few Europeans are paying attention to the Brexit process anymore. We don't care about PR. We care about protecting our interests, deal or no-deal." /11
That last sentiment, of course, is one loudly expressed by the UK government too./12

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More from @BBCkatyaadler

16 Dec
NEW: Notes of careful optimism in EU off-record briefings .. Not just the public ‘maybe, possibly, but let’s see’ of the European Commission President in front of the European Parliament this morning /1
EU sources saying U.K. has accepted the idea of ‘managed divergence’ in exchange for preferential access to single market. Ie if U.K. divergences from EU standards (which U.K. gov demands as its post #Brexit ‘sovereign right’) then EU has right to retaliate eg with tariffs /2
Obvs right to retaliate would go both ways eg if U.K. views EU businesses as having unfair advantage after Brussels changed standards. Still to be agreed: what mechanism to judge whether unfair advantage exists or not.. EU has accepted it can’t take unilateral action /3
Read 11 tweets
11 Dec
So can a deal be reached between the EU and UK by Sunday, despite the pervading mood of gloom plus a sense – in public at least – that both sides are digging in their heels? It’s difficult but possible #Brexit /1
Today the European Commission chief hit back at the EU-is-in-denial-about-UK-sovereignty claim.Yes, she said, EU was insisting on what it views as ‘fair competition’ rules in exchange for giving the UK preferential access to the single market (tariff +quota free) but she added/2
that UK would remain free – “sovereign, if you wish” were the words she used – to decide what it wanted to do. If UK diverged the EU "would simply adapt conditions for access to our market. It would be the decision of the UK and would apply vice versa,” she said /3
Read 13 tweets
9 Dec
Merkel speaking to Bundestag about #Brexit Insistent on not compromising the single market to get a deal. Says not sure whether clarity will emerge by tomorrow ie after this evening’s Johnson/von der Leyen dinner in Brussels /1
Important to see here there are no serious Franco/German splits over the current impasse in negotiations. True: Merkel possibly keener on deal being done than Macron. He still hopes France can wrest some business benefits out of ‘a bad situation’. Hopes too that .. /2
His tough stance on fish and public threat of using a veto on a deal that’s ‘not in France’s long term interest’ will play well for him at home politically BUT EU countries all pretty much United behind Barnier’s declaration not to ‘sacrifice the future for the present’ /3
Read 7 tweets
3 Dec
Mire pizza anyone? EU+UK negotiators will work late into the night tonight as they did last night, I’m told. “This is the big push”. EU sources predict the “bulk of outstanding work” on deal could be done in next 24 hours BUT that fine-tuning could take a few more days #Brexit /1
More EU negotiators are making their way to London this afternoon. This, in itself, isn’t remarkable - there can be lots of shuttling between London and Brussels on negotiating weeks BUT the timing makes everything noteworthy right now /2
EU sources tell me that even if/when the outline of a deal is there, there will most likely be a meeting between the PM and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. EU member states could then veto the deal IF they’re unhappy.. /3
Read 6 tweets
2 Dec
Am told Barnier was ‘in good spirits’ when reported back to EU ambassadors this morning on state of play in negotiations ongoing in London BUT that he has ‘reached the edges of his mandate’ and has little more room for manoeuvre in talks with U.K. “Only millimetres left” /1
Of course you’d expect the EU side to say this. But there is a deeply-held belief here that U.K. must now move considerably on 3 STILL OUTSTANDING issues: fish, competition rules, governance- in order for there to be a deal this year /2
EU countries jumpy about concessions being made to U.K. “This is the painful part” said one EU ambassador BUT I don’t detect mistrust in Barnier and team in my conversations.NB Barnier didn’t ask EU countries for more flexibility in negotiating mandate this morning /3
Read 7 tweets
23 Nov
Assumption EU-side is that if a deal will be reached, Boris Johnson will want it to be when -or just after-negotiating teams meet in London, rather than during a ‘Brussels week’. EU attitude is that bottom line: it wants a deal but not bothered how U.K. gov sells it at home /1
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier today said fundamental differences remain between the two sides on core issues But negotiators are expected to meet face-to-face in London later this week-which, potentially, is when Barnier and the PM could emerge from #covid19 self-isolation/2
Adding to the swirl of rumour and speculation about imminent announcement of a deal : we hear a call is being planned later this week between the PM and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.. /3
Read 7 tweets

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