How fast could UK-EU trade deal be struck?

  • 22 November 2019
  • From the section Europe
Johnson and Corbyn during ITV debate Image copyright AFP
Image caption Brussels fears that whether Corbyn or the Johnson form a government, 2020 could well be another year of uncertainty

"Not in my wildest dreams would I imagine that a possibility!"

This is how an influential European diplomat responded when I put to him Boris Johnson's assertion that a trade deal with the EU could/would/should be completed by December next year.

In these times of distrust in the media, charged emotions over Brexit and in the lead-up to a general election, I appreciate that many readers dislike journalists referring to unnamed sources, such as this "influential diplomat".

But people speak to me on condition of anonymity. That's how I get good background information and - in the case of the Conservative Party's speedy trade deal pledge - I can assure you that this diplomat's response was one of the politer ones I've comes across, off the record, in EU circles.

European politicians dismiss Boris Johnson's claim that he will "get Brexit done" if he wins the election. In fact, Brussels fears that whether Labour or the Conservatives form a government, 2020 could well be another year of uncertainty for EU and UK businesses.

Read full article How fast could UK-EU trade deal be struck?

Jean-Claude Juncker: 'I've had enough Brexit', outgoing EU chief says

  • 5 November 2019
  • From the section Europe
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Media captionJean-Claude Juncker: "Brexit is a too-long story that has to be brought to an end"

Famous for extravagant pronouncements and gestures like kissing EU leaders on the forehead or playfully slapping their face - Jean Claude Juncker was untypically guarded. He clearly didn't want to be seen to be trying to interfere in the general election.

However, when I put some Brexit promises to him being made by the various political parties, engage he did, crushing a number of key party pledges in the process - from an EU perspective, at least.

Read full article Jean-Claude Juncker: 'I've had enough Brexit', outgoing EU chief says

Brexit: Is this latest extension the final delay?

  • 28 October 2019
  • From the section Europe
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The EU has told Boris Johnson to select a UK candidate for the new European Commission

Boris Johnson has now written to the EU accepting a new Brexit extension until 31 January. But do EU leaders believe this will be the last delay before Brexit?

In his letter to Brussels, the UK prime minister urges the EU to make clear that a further extension beyond January is simply not on offer.

Read full article Brexit: Is this latest extension the final delay?

Brexit dance goes on as EU approves new extension for UK

  • 28 October 2019
  • From the section Europe
Anti-Brexit activists' EU flags are pictured alongside the Union flags of pro-Brexit activists as they demonstrate outside of the Houses of Parliament in London on 28 October 2019 Image copyright AFP

The EU has finally announced its informal approval of a new Brexit extension: a full three months, running until 31 January, as suggested in the UK prime minister's extension request.

But what an excruciatingly long and confusing political dance to get there. And the dance is not over yet.

Read full article Brexit dance goes on as EU approves new extension for UK

Brexit: Deja vu as France digs in heels over extension

  • 24 October 2019
  • From the section Europe
French President Emmanuel Macron gestures at a news conference in Brussels, Belgium on 18 October 2019. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The French president is fed up with how long the Brexit process is taking

There's a strong sense of déjà vu in the EU's Brexit extension discussions.

As Westminster waits and the prime minister calls for an official EU decision to be made, France is acting as a spoke in the wheels. Much as it did back in spring when leaders debated the April Brexit extension.

Read full article Brexit: Deja vu as France digs in heels over extension

EU eyes Brexit flextension (again)

  • 23 October 2019
  • From the section Europe
EU and UK flags Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Brexit deal is now in limbo after Tuesday's votes in the House of Commons

"The ball is not in our court. The balls are all stuck in the UK's net."

The EU diplomat I was speaking to was frustrated. Hugely frustrated that the EU's newly negotiated Brexit deal was now stuck in limbo after Tuesday's votes in the House of Commons. He was irritated too that the prime minister said the next move would be decided in Brussels.

Read full article EU eyes Brexit flextension (again)

Reluctant EU considers Brexit extension request

  • 20 October 2019
  • From the section Europe
London protester holds up photo of Boris Johnson with clown's make-up, 19 October 2019 Image copyright EPA
Image caption London saw a huge protest on Saturday, calling for a second referendum on Brexit

Boris Johnson made it crystal clear on Saturday: he did not want to write to EU leaders requesting another Brexit extension.

And they were crystal clear in telephone calls with him that day that they were far from thrilled to be asked.

Read full article Reluctant EU considers Brexit extension request

EU mulls new emergency summit to 'get Brexit deal done'

  • 15 October 2019
  • From the section Europe
Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar (left) and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Liverpool. Photo: 10 October 2019 Image copyright Irish Government Press Office via Getty Images
Image caption It seemed an understanding had been reached between Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar last week

It's extremely hard to see how a new Brexit deal can still be agreed by this Thursday.

Negotiations continue - but time is tight, and, to use the words of even the most upbeat of those involved, "there's still much work to do".

Read full article EU mulls new emergency summit to 'get Brexit deal done'

Brexit: The end for negotiations in Brussels?

  • 9 October 2019
  • From the section Europe
Donald Tusk gesturing with a finger to his forehead Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Donald Tusk lost his cool with Boris Johnson on Twitter

The EU has tried very, very hard throughout this Brexit process to present a cool, calm, united front while political volatility reigns in the UK.

"They want to come across as the adults in the room," one Spanish journalist put it to me.

Read full article Brexit: The end for negotiations in Brussels?

Will EU compromise after receiving UK Brexit proposals?

  • 3 October 2019
  • From the section Europe
Boris Johnson Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption How will the EU respond to Mr Johnson's proposals?

Workable proposals or non-workable proposals? That's the EU's question.

The prime minister says he has delivered a "constructive and reasonable" plan to Brussels, containing UK compromises on finding alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop in a Brexit deal.

Read full article Will EU compromise after receiving UK Brexit proposals?