Brexit: EU reaches out to London

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier announced in a tweet on Monday that the EU was ready to intensify free trade talks with London, "on all subjects, and based on legal texts." The negotiations thus look set to continue after they had appeared to be on the verge of collapse. But will this be enough for an agreement to be signed by the end of the year?

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The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Fish in exchange for flexibility on subsidies

The Daily Telegraph outlines what could be a mutually acceptable agreement:

“The compromise that still seems likely is that the UK will cede some continued fishing rights, though not nearly as good as what EU member states currently enjoy, while on state aid disputes would be settled via independent arbitration, with transgressions punished according to an agreed mechanism for calibrated withdrawal of market access. This is plainly not the negotiating position of either the UK or the EU, but there's enough there to allow both sides to claim they have achieved some sort of a climbdown by the other.”

Spotmedia (RO) /

Cooperation also better for Brussels

An agreement simply has to be reached, demands MEP Iuliu Winkler (EPP) in a guest commentary on Spotmedia:

“The first area affected by [a no-deal Brexit] would be food. There would be inflation on both markets and exporters would certainly have to be prepared for the possibility of their products no longer being competitive due to higher prices. ... It would be better if there was a miracle and an agreement - even if it is less than perfect - were reached in the next few weeks to ensure a partnership between the EU, its member states and the UK. Our common history and economy, our common trade and finance sector, our social and cultural links are all arguments in favour of future cooperation, not rivalry.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Hopefully cool heads will retain the upper hand

Britain should take the EU's outstretched hand, recommends Carsten Volkery, Handelsblatt's London correspondent:

“The time for thrashing out deals is over, now it's time to jointly reach a trade agreement. Both sides have concluded that a text would need to be ready for signing within a few weeks. A lack of focus now could easily lead to no deal - a result that both sides want to avoid. Unfortunately, some veterans of the Leave campaign who are only too happy to pick a fight with the EU have set the tone in Downing Street. Such instincts are very well suited to winning votes. In free trade talks, however, diplomacy is required.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Don't risk an accidental no deal

The Europeans are also to blame for the fact that the negotiations are dragging on dangerously, points out Eric Albert, UK correspondent for Le Monde:

“They refuse to grant the British the same access to the EU single market as the Canadians have. On what grounds? Officially, the situation is different, since the UK is a much closer and larger economy. That's correct, nevertheless the argument is a little weak. ... Without a deal, [EU fishermen] will completely lose access to UK fishing zones. Playing for time as both camps are doing is a traditional negotiating tactic. But in the midst of the pandemic, when the essentials have already been decided on, is it really worth it? It would be unfortunate if a misplaced word or unexpected circumstance were to accidentally cause a no deal.”