The president of the European Commission , Ursula von der Leyen, and the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will dine this Wednesday in Brussels in the hope that a face-to-face meeting will help to unblock the negotiations for a future relationship framework and thus avoid an abrupt Brexit on December 31.
The meeting will take place late on Wednesday in Brussels, as confirmed through Twitter by the head of the Community Executive, with a brief message in which she limits herself to saying that the “discussions on the association agreement” will continue.
Both agreed on Monday in a telephone conversation that it was necessary to take the step of seeing each other physically to try to advance in negotiations that had been stalled for months on the same three issues: same rules of competition, access of the European fleet to British waters and the governance of the agreement itself.
However, they did not yet reveal the date on which they planned to meet, waiting for the chief negotiators, the European Michel Barnier and the British David Frost, to prepare a summary with the keys to the differences. Frost and Barnier will accompany Von der Leyen and Johnson at the dinner originally planned at the headquarters of the European Commission.
The date has finally been announced after London and Brussels have announced a “principle of agreement” to resolve differences over the application of the divorce agreement.
The Johnson Government has agreed to withdraw the clauses of the Internal Market Law that it designed to avoid compliance with various provisions of the Withdrawal Treaty that affected the border in Ulster, which has been interpreted as a first gesture by the ‘premier’ opening to the future agreement.
Hours before the date of the meeting was finalized, a spokesman for Von der Leyen said at a press conference that if the meeting is successful “the negotiations could continue later”, thus rejecting the information on Monday that indicated that the European negotiator, Michel Barnier, told the capitals and the European Parliament that Wednesday was a key moment.
If the agreement does not arrive in time for it to enter into force on January 1, when the rupture between the United Kingdom and the European Union is consolidated , from Brussels they have wanted to emphasize that the negotiations could continue, although this will not prevent the immediate consequences of a no-deal Brexit.
Member states have urged the Commission to speed up the preparation of contingency measures to mitigate the damage of an abrupt Brexit, although Von der Leyen’s services are reluctant to take this step because they insist on leaving room for negotiation.
The meeting between Von der Leyen and Johnson will also take place just one day before the Heads of State and Government of the European Union meet at the European Council that will last Thursday and Friday in Brussels.