EU leaders are once again heading to the Brussels summit, this time with the members of the eurozone.
This is the formal, biannual meeting, as opposed to the extraordinary EU Summit at the start of the month. The meeting is significant in many ways, particularly in regard to Brexit.
The UK has a self-imposed deadline to reach a leaving agreement at the meeting, which starts on October 15. The ostensible reason for that is that such an agreement would require the vote of all the EU leaders to approve.
And, of course, the Summit would be a convenient occasion to do that. Although, as we’ve seen, the EU is also perfectly happy to have extraordinary summits quite frequently.
The Counter Positions
The EU, for its part, is happy to wait until the end of the year for an agreement.
December 31 is when the negotiation period formally expires, with both sides pledging to not extend it. Though that’s what they both said before they extended it last time.
The UK argues they are perfectly happy to have a free trade agreement with the EU on a basis similar to Australia. Technically, the UK can do that at any time, by formally ending exit negotiations and asking for it.
But that’s not in the interest of either party. Which is why…
What We Are Expecting
Virtually no one expects the UK to announce an end to negotiations and to effectuate Brexit on Oct 15.
In the same vein, no one expects a breakthrough with the negotiations, nor the signing of a deal at the summit. It is likely that some kind of progress will happen. However, it will mostly be on a technical level so that the negotiators can say that something has been done.
Analysts have long expected the issue to run down to the very last minute, with incremental agreements along the way. Basically, it allows both sides to posture about how they are willing to negotiate while trying to leverage the deadline in their favor.
What Isn’t Expected
A small number of analysts, however, posit the potential for some kind of major announcement, with a major EU leader stepping in to claim the spotlight.
Most agree that there will be some kind of agreement to justify continuing negotiations for another couple of months.
In their latest comments, Barnier from the EU side said that talks are slow and will not see an end soon. Davies, on from the UK side, says talks are useful.
He claims they are still committed to reaching a deal, but important differences remain.
Both continue to accuse the other of trying to run out the clock.
It’s All Kind of Fishy
The main sticking point remains the negotiation of fishing rights. Although there is also posturing over other issues, such as the Internal Markets Bill.
The primary disagreement on fishing rights is between the UK and France in particular. And that’s why some analysts expect that Macron’s intercession is vital to reach an agreement.