At the beginning of Brexit negotiations the transition period was allowed to be extended by 12 or 24 months, if both sides agreed to it. 1 of July 2020 was set as a deadline for extending the transition.
However, the British government has refused to extend the transition period beyond December 31, 2020. This promise was made to the British voters who voted for the Conservative Party and cannot be broken, the Prime Minister Mr. Johnson stated. According to the officials, the extension may lead to serious uncertainty for businesses and citizens.
That means the European Union and the UK will have to set a deal in the next six months to avoid a “No-deal” scenario. The EU and UK shared plans “to intensify the talks in July and to create the most conducive conditions for concluding and ratifying a deal before the end of 2020”.
The main question about Brexit that arises now: “Will COVID-19 crisis slow the Brexit process down?”. And the official decision made by British government so far is to stick with the current timetable and to end the transition by December 2020.
Under the terms of the current deal, Britain can request a one-time extension of the transition period for one or two years. It can be extended, if both parties agree on such a move by the end of June. But as Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove claimed on May, 4, “Were we to perpetuate our membership of the European Union-lite through the transition period, we would end up spending more taxpayers’ money – which can be spent on the NHS – we would have to accept new EU rules which might constrain our ability to fight Covid-19 and deal with other crises, and we would be unfortunately and unfairly trespassing on the EU’s need to concentrate on other vital priorities.” According to the British government, the extension would require the UK to continue following EU rules at a time when it “needs flexibility” to deal with the crisis. And it would also prolong business uncertainty in the time when the economy is in need of confident moves.
Meanwhile, anti-Brexit parties doubt that by January the UK will really get ready to implement a new immigration and trade system and all border arrangements. As Britain is among the countries worst hit by Covid-19, its lockdown will probably be extended, meaning the part of the economy will be left shackled.
Despite the critical pandemic situation, Britain and the United States now begin trade negotiations. More than 100 participants in the US-British talks will take part in a video conference on May, 5, the purpose of which is the agreement on trade relations between the United States and Britain after the transition period.
It is expected that the first round of trade negotiations will last about two weeks and will cover issues of trade in goods and services, digital services, as well as investment and support for small businesses.
In Britain many conservative parties consider the potential free trade agreement with the United States one of the main advantages of leaving the EU.
What do you think, would it be worth extending the transition period now? Let us know in the comments!