The news of the EU and UK resumption of negotiations was expected, Rickard Hoso writes, the Swedish correspondent in Brussels. By the end of the year at the latest, we know if the efforts have been in vain.
Is it possible to resume something that has never been interrupted? This question could be asked after EU and UK negotiators announced that they would return to the negotiating table starting Thursday.
The announcement was preceded by a clear disruption of negotiations after the Brussels summit, in which the leaders of the European Union took a firm stance towards Britain.
Disgruntled Boris Johnson announced that chief negotiator Michel Barnier would not have had to come to London unless the position of the European Union changed in a “fundamental” way.
Speeches to Parliament are unrestricted
He said that both parties should be ready for settlements and the European Union was ready to intensify negotiations with Britain.
In fact, Barnier said only the obvious: No one denied that both parties must be ready for compromises and that intense negotiations are needed to get to the negotiations.
The supposed privilege was enough to enable Boris Johnson to return to the negotiating table with proper honor.
The door was open the whole time
With the result in hand, it can be said that negotiations were never broken and the door to further negotiations was always open, if not open, then at least.
It is also true that the European Union did not make any tangible concessions regarding its objectives in the negotiations: fair rules for business support, a dispute settlement mechanism, and continued access to British fishing waters.
Indeed, the UK has not backed down from its previous positions in negotiations.
So we could be deadlocked again in a few weeks.
Now they negotiate seven days a week
But the truth is that we are now in an intense phase of negotiations that are seen as a prerequisite for an agreement.
This means, among other things, that from today onwards, negotiations take place daily, including weekends.
The agreement will also focus on a concrete legal text, which is a requirement on the British side.
Waivers burning required
The goal is to reach an agreement in mid-November. This would give the parties 6-7 weeks to ratify the agreement before the end of the year, when the current transition period between the European Union and the United Kingdom ends.
It won’t be easy to agree. Compromise requires heavy concessions on both sides.
For the UK, it may be a matter of accepting EU demands for equal opportunity for companies to compete. This would, among other things, reduce the possibility of government support for companies.
Fisheries, in turn, is an area in which the European Union may be forced to give up. In practical terms, this means that fishermen from European Union countries may be forced to apply for new fishing waters.
Like a slalom up
These are still questions that can be resolved if there are good intentions on both sides of the negotiating table. Conversely, no legal provisions and guarantees can save negotiations on the lack of trust between the parties.
In normal cases, free trade agreements aim to bring the parties involved. The modest agreement can also be seen as an expression of a desire to deepen the relationship with trade as a tool.
In negotiations about the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, the opposite logic applies: The goal is to determine the degree to which one desires to deconstruct the structures that they have built over the past 50 years.
This can be compared to a strenuous slalom: a sweaty and frustrating workout with highly uncertain results.
By the end of the year at the latest, we know if the efforts have been in vain.