It's a never-ending cycle. Four years have passed since the announcement, in the wake of the 2016 referendum, of the UK's exit from the European Union. Brexit will come finally into effect on January 1st, 2021. Time is running out and the end of the year is going to be crucial.
So where are we really?
EU heads of state and government met on October 15-16 at the EU summit to assess progress of the talks and possibly give the green light to open a final round of negotiations. Despite the British threat not to respect the withdrawal treaty and the infringement procedure initiated by the Commission against the United Kingdom on October 1, some European diplomats still dare to evoke "positive" negotiation dynamics.
The British Prime Minister even believes it is possible that the two sides reach a compromise but stressed that "various issues remain to be resolved". "The European Union must understand that we are very serious about the need to control our own laws and our own regulations," he warned.
In fact, none of the last major obstacles, namely fishing rights, the rules of a “level playing field” in terms of competition and state aid, judicial and police cooperation as well as the means to settle disputes, has been overcome so far, as President Macron has pointed out.
Appearance of a new (virtual) border to take goods out of England
Without a deal between London and Brussels, the British government has estimated that 7,000 lorries could be stranded in Kent for up to two days before being allowed to cross the Channel. To remedy this disaster scenario, from January 1st, drivers of heavy vehicles will need to obtain a permit to enter the County of Kent, in which the port of Dover is located. The objective: to avoid traffic jams linked to customs controls. In fact, this measure will create a kind of border inside the country!
Drivers of lorries over 7.5 tonnes will therefore have to prove that they have all the necessary papers to transport their goods to the continent before arriving in this south-eastern county. Drivers who are not up to date with their paperwork will be detected via automatic recognition of their license plate, and invited to turn back, not without being fined 300 pounds!
“This is not a forecast or prediction of what will happen but rather a stretching scenario.” Minister of State Michael Gove told Parliament. Thus today, it is estimated that only "30 to 60%" of trucks would arrive at the border having completed the necessary formalities for their goods. Without these formalities, it will be impossible for drivers to board ferries to the continent.
Claire Fournier - CONEX
International Development Manager