THE EU may need to ask Boris Johnson to extend the Brexit transition period, the new boss of the European Commission has said.
The Withdrawal Agreement struck with the EU allows the so-called ‘implementation period’ to be extended by up to two years.
During that period EU rules will still apply here but the UK will have no role in making decisions.
But a fortnight ago the PM vowed to make any extension illegal – meaning Britain will be free of the orbit of EU rules by December 2020.
Today European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen set Brussels for an immediate collision course with the UK in the New Year.
She told a French newspaper that both sides would have to re-evaluate how trade negotiations are going in the middle of 2020, before deciding whether to extend the transition period beyond December 2020.
It would be reasonable to evaluate the situation mid-year and then, if necessary, agree on extending the transition period.
Ursula von der Leyen
Speaking to French daily les Echos, the EU chief said: “It would be reasonable to evaluate the situation mid-year and then, if necessary, agree on extending the transition period.”
Her comments cast fresh doubt on whether a new UK-EU trade deal can be ready in time for when the transition period ends next year.
UK/EU trade would revert to basic World Trade Organisation rules – hiking tariffs and customs red tape – if no new trade agreement is in place.
Mr Johnson’s move to set a hard deadline to talks is designed to call the EU’s bluff ahead of the start of negotiations over Britain’s future trading relationship with Brussels.
It means Britain could not prolong trade negotiations even if it wanted to and stops Brussels winding down the clock on trade negotiations to force Britain into accepting an extension.
A Government spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has been clear that we will not be extending the Implementation Period.
“Both the EU and the UK committed to agreeing a future partnership by the end of 2020 in the Political Declaration and have agreed to work with great energy to achieve this.”
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