European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen and European Council Pres Charles Michel (representing the 27 member states) begin the ceremonial signing of the EU-U.K. trade and cooperation agreement soon before the document is then flown to U.K. for PM to sign /1
EU enters new trade relationship in a wary frame of mind. No one I talk to here thinks this’ll be a smooth ride: the EU ever-conscious of protecting single market interests. Downing Street yearning to diverge, they believe /2
Repeatedly when I speak to EU figures about the agreement, they mention the government’s Internal Market Bill with its original clauses contradicting the Brexit divorce deal as to why there’s this wariness here. And why they hope the deal’s dispute mechanisms will be effective /3
If needed #Brexit /4

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More from @BBCkatyaadler

24 Dec 20
Eu Commussion Chief holding press conference with chief negotiator Michel Barnier « We have finally found an agreement - a good, fair, balanced deal says von der Leyen
Deal protects EU interests - a solid foundation with a departing friend. Europe will ctn to advance. EU has remained United throughout process says Bon der Leyen
EU rules and standards will be redirected - have tools and mechanisms to react if there is ‘unfair competition’ says von der Leyen - also has 5.5 years of stability for EU fishing communities says von der Leyen
Read 11 tweets
18 Dec 20
Why, you might ask, if the EU priority in negotiations was to protect the single market, is Brussels allowing issue of fish to endanger the whole deal? EU always knew it needed to compromise on fish so che pasa? #Brexit /1
Thing is, level playing field is worth a lot more in monetary and political terms to EU BUT it sounds quite abstract to voters. Fishermen and women losing their jobs, industries dwindling .. that would be very visible very quickly - this elevates importance of fishing rights /2
In coastal countries where governments fear public backlash if it’s perceived they’ve sacrificed national fishing communities for a deal with U.K. /3
Read 7 tweets
16 Dec 20
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
14 Dec 20
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
Read 12 tweets
11 Dec 20
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 20
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

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