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Johnson Sets 15 October Deadline on Brexit Talks

08 September 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a six-week deadline on discussions with the European Union on a post-Brexit trade deal. Johnson has highlighed the European Council meeting on 15 October 2020 as the date when an agreement must be reached. He said:

“there is no sense in thinking about timelines that go beyond that point. If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us”.

Johnson has remarked that Britain will negotiate “a trading agreement with the EU like Australia’s.” Australia does not have a free trade deal with the EU. The alternative to a free trade deal is for Britain to trade on World Trade Organisation terms, including accompanying tariffs. The post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020 unless Britain moves on key issues, as Chief EU Negotiator Michel Barnier reiterated in a speech in Dublin at the beginning of September.

The EU has agreed to Britain using its own rules for state aid and subsidy policy, though it is yet unclear what those new rules may be or if they will be overseen by an independent regulator. The EU will seek sight of the mechanics of those rules to understand domestic enforcement and ensure a suitable dispute resolution process with Britain.

Johnson has further fed ‘No-Deal’ fears by stating a no-deal scenario would be good for Britain as it would give it domestic control over its  "laws, rules and fishing waters". The EU is keen to reach a deal and given the tight timelines now in place, emergency Brexit summits are likely on the horizon.

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