With time running out on their goal of striking a deal on post-Brexit relations, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are to hold a videoconference on Saturday to “take stock of negotiations.”
According to the head of the EU’s executive branch, the most difficult questions in the talks are still completely open, and the Saturday chat will assess what the weeks to come will look like.
Relations between Brussels and London appeared to hit rock-bottom earlier this week when the commission started legal action over the Internal Market Bill, which passed in the British Parliament’s lower house earlier this week.
With the bill, Johnson wants to create a legal “safety net” that gives him the power to override a provision in the withdrawal agreement that would impose on Northern Ireland different post-Brexit customs rules to the rest of the United Kingdom.
Johnson said a deal governing the future relations with the EU should be struck by mid-October or Britain would walk away from the talks and start preparing for a “no deal” scenario.
The EU has indicated it could wait a few more weeks, but both sides still need to ratify any deal – meaning October is the only viable window to clinch one.
At the end of the year, the Brexit transition period ends and Britain will leave the EU internal market and customs union.
Without an agreement in place, there is a threat of serious disruption for businesses and supply chains.