BREXIT: WITH COVID-19 A PROLONGATION OF THE TRANSITION PERIOD IS A MUST
Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic we were working on the hypothesis that the transition period, mostly for UK political reasons, would only last till the end of the current year.
Covid-19 dramatically changes the landscape. Negotiations between the EU and the UK, already under a tight time schedule, were interrupted. Their resumption date is a question mark, as we haven’t as yet reached the peak of the pandemic.
Taking the European Parliament new meeting schedule as an example, face to face meetings are not expected to resume before September. It would therefore be impossible to conclude the negotiations on the future relationship, and in particular on the modalities of the Free Trade Agreement, in time.
In addition to that, the pandemic gives the UK Government a strong political argument to justify accepting a prolongation of the transition period, say of one more year till the end of 2021.
Those would be logical, rationale, decisions, and on top of that good news. And we all need good news in these times of distress.
That would mean “business as usual” for the EU/UK agri-food relationship for an extra year. The UK would stay in the single market till the end of 2021, which would give more time to negotiate the best possible future relationship.
I am also moderately optimistic that after the pandemic is over, the focus on the economic pain suffered and how to turn the economy around will make both sides concentrate on their core interests, and on the least possible disruptive arrangements.