Brexit warning: EU told to prepare for no deal to avoid being ‘blackmailed’ by UK

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Britain left the EU on January 31, with both sides entering into a 11-month transition period that has seen the UK continue to be bound to the bloc’s single market and customs union rules and regulation. gotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal have been ongoing for six months in the hope of striking an agreement before the transition period deadline on December 31, 2020. But very little progress has been made and significant distance remains, with both sides refusing to give ground on a number of key red lines, including fisheries, state aid and the EU’s level playing field.

Boris Johnson is proceeding with the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill, which would look to override key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement signed with the EU last year and consequently, break international law.

Brussels has warned the UK to scrap this proposed legislation by the end of the month, but the Prime Minister is continuing to stand his ground on the Bill.

Earlier this week, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned: “Every day the chances are dwindling that we will still reach an agreement in time.”

Germany is becoming increasingly fearful of a no deal Brexit, particularly after the EU’s largest economy continues to be hit extremely hard by the continued coronavirus pandemic.

For example, the European automotive industry has calculated in addition to the €100billion hit from the COVID-19 crisis, there could be losses of the same magnitude without an agreement between the EU and UK.

But the mood remains cautious in Germany, with politicians against an agreement at any cost.

Earlier this month, Germany’s top diplomat in London, Ambassador Andreas Michaelis, tweeted: “In more than 30 years as a diplomat I have not experienced such a fast, intentional and profound deterioration of a negotiation.

“If you believe in partnership between the UK and the EU like I do then don’t accept it.”

Despite fears growing over the huge hole it could blow in the German economy, Green European politician Franziska Brantner has warned the EU over showing too much willingness to compromise with the UK, and to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

She told German publication Heidenheimer Zeitung: “I see with concern that the federal government is ready, also because of the EU Council Presidency, to conclude an agreement at almost any cost.

“It would be more realistic if we now carefully prepare ourselves and the economy for a no-deal scenario.”

The Economic Council of the CDU is still hopeful of agreement, warning a no deal outcome would be “the worst possible outcome of this already difficult situation”.

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Astrid Hamker, President of the Economic Council, said: “A hard course and a sudden break would have unpredictable, dramatic consequences for the economy on both sides of the English Channel.

“Even if it may seem the lesser of two evils to some, a no-deal scenario would be the worst possible outcome of this already difficult situation.”

But Green European politician Ms Brantner instead launched a scathing attack against the UK, and continued: “We must not allow ourselves to be blackmailed and conclude an agreement that is, firstly, bad and, secondly, may be called into question again by Johnson in a few months.”

“An important point that is currently being neglected is that London is again questioning the protection of geographical designations of origin such as mozzarella, champagne or Black Forest ham.”

Ms Brantner also raised the question over what would be regarded as a British product in the future and thus gain free access to the European market as “highly relevant”.

She added: “There is currently a threat of large loopholes, so that cheap goods from all over the world could compete unfairly with our products via Great Britain.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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