With the chances of agreeing on the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU by October as planned fading, the European Commission has outlined two main scenarios of a possible deal.
The agreement on the conditions for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union is unlikely to be ready by mid-October; a more likely period is mid-December, according to a study by Societe Generale CIB.
The next round of Brexit negotiations will be held on August 16-17 in Brussels, at a technical level without the participation of the main negotiators — Michel Barnier from the EU and UK’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.
On the first day of negotiations, the sides plan to discuss issues related to Ireland and Northern Ireland, and on the second – post-Brexit relations between the UK and EU.
“The estimated deadline for the completion of the [Brexit] agreement is the October EU summit, but we are skeptical that a deal can be reached by this time. The December summit (scheduled for December 13-14) seems a more likely [term],” the report said.
In July, Michel Barnier said that the text of the agreement should be ready for the EU summit on October 18 so that it could pass all the ratification procedures by the Brexit date of March 29, 2019.
This agreement should include accords on a range of issues, including the Irish border, the rights of EU citizens, and the fulfillment of London’s financial obligations to the EU, made during its membership in the bloc.
A political declaration describing the structure of future UK-EU relations, which hasn’t been negotiated yet, can be attached to the agreement.
The authors of the study believe that even though an agreement on the terms of the divorce can be reached, “there is a serious risk that the United Kingdom’s parliament will reject it.”
In July, the European Commission called on EU members and institutions to prepare for a situation where agreement on Brexit conditions could not be reached. Simultaneously, the Commission outlined two main scenarios. First, a conclusion and ratification of a Brexit deal before March 30, 2019 whereby EU legislation and its agreements will no longer apply to Britain in full only after the expiry of the 21-month transition period in January 1, 2021.
The second option is the absence of an agreement on the “divorce” or full ratification by both sides by the end of March 2019. This, among other things, will lead to a lack of a transition period in relations between Britain and the EU. Consequently, EU legislation will cease to apply to Britain as early as March 30, 2019, the report said.
As the deadline for the Brexit agreement looms, the parties are still deadlocked on the major withdrawal issue – post-Brexit customs arrangements. According to the so-called Chequers plan, adopted by the UK cabinet in July, the two parties could create a free trade area for goods and maintain a “common rulebook” for all items. Brussels, however, rejected the proposal.
The issue of the Irish border is among the most contentious matters in the EU-UK talks, as Britain’s pullout from the EU Customs Union might require the introduction of a hard border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.