Officially, Brexit happened back on January 31, 2020. Then Britain left the space of a united Europe, and all that remained was to conclude a deal, which at that time seemed only a matter of time. However, the world was hit by the coronavirus, and it was superimposed on a number of differences. And now Britain has only 9 days left to find at least some compromise with the European Union, otherwise there will be a painful Brexit without a deal.

Is there a deadline for concluding an agreement?

The transition period officially ends at 11 pm on December 31, 2020. In theory, this is when the parties should close the deal. However, in reality, there is much less time. The reason for this is the European Parliament. The Green Union has already stated that it is too late to approve the deal because parliamentarians will not have time to properly familiarize themselves with its terms. Other party leaders are not as radical, but they have demanded that the final version of the deal be ready by midnight on December 27. An extraordinary session of parliament will be held on December 28, and if no agreement is found by this time, the situation will go according to the worst scenario for both sides.

And what about Britain?

The United Kingdom has also set tough restrictions. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said they see Western Christmas as the deadline for a deal. The fact is that the project of the deal must be approved by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Supporters of Boris Johnson hold a confident majority there, but they still need time to familiarize themselves and settle all the formalities.

What is the stumbling block?

It is very difficult to single out any question as to the main and key issue. Recently, a lot of attention has been paid to the rights to use water areas. However, there are many more questions. How to keep the Irish border transparent and prevent the flow of illegal immigrants to Britain? How to keep British companies in the European market, but prevent protectionism from London? How to deal with a huge heap of mutual obligations? There are no clear answers to all these questions. There are only plans for compromises, but it is not known whether they will be implemented.

Brexit without a deal – is it a crash?

Of course, a scenario in which the United Kingdom leaves the European Union and all agreements are ruptured will lead to great shocks. Many Britons are already stocking up on food, at first in the UK there may be a shortage of food and medical supplies. An alternative deal with the United States will not help either. After the defeat of Donald Trump, hope for an economic union between the two conservatives was dashed.

Can you find more room for maneuver?

Actually, yes. In theory, the deal could even be closed on December 31st. In this case, neither the British nor the European parliaments will have time to approve anything. It may take some time until the moment of approval. Then there may be chaos for several days, but this option is significantly better than no deal at all.

Why not just extend the timeline?

In fact, this option would seem the most convenient. However, to extend the transition period, the consent of both European parliamentarians and the British are required. Johnson won the election with promises that Britain would stop indefinitely pushing back the date of its final break with the EU. The British Prime Minister is unlikely to want to break a direct promise, and the representatives of European countries are frankly tired of bargaining and compromises. Both sides want to leave a tough Brexit in an already tough 2020.

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Dmitri Agafonov
A political analyst who keeps a close eye on Russian and international relations. Studied Economics at Leningrad State University, St. Petersberg in Russia. A contributor to The Eastern Herald from Russia.