Boris Johnson to meet EU president in London as talks on post-Brexit trade loom
Boris Johnson will sit down for talks on Britain's post-Brexit future with the president of the European Commission next week.
Ursula von der Leyen will meet the Prime Minister on Wednesday in Number 10 to discuss the opening positions of the EU and the UK in the upcoming negotiations.
The visit comes ahead of Britain’s expected exit from the EU on January 31, and will provide the first opportunity for Mr Johnson to outline the UK’s opening position in talks, which are set to officially begin in February or March.
While previous discussions over the UK’s withdrawal have taken place in Brussels, the upcoming negotiations will be split between London and the Belgian capital.
Before meeting the PM, Ms von der Leyen, who replaced Jean-Claude Juncker in December, will speak at the London School of Economics in an event titled: “Old Friends, New Beginnings: building another future for the EU-UK partnership”.
On the same day, EU diplomats will meet for the first of eight discussions over their negotiating position, which will be hammered out in just 12 days.
By the end of next week, the bloc is set to announce whether UK personal data and financial services regulation is strong enough for close cooperation and alignment.
In the days after, they will outline their trade position.
Ms von der Leyen is likely to advise the PM that an extension to the transition period will be needed to form a comprehensive trade agreement.
In an interview with French newspaper Les Echos last week, the Commission President warned that she had “serious concern” over the short negotiating time.
The transition period is set to expire in December this year.
Ms von der Leyen said: “It is not only about negotiating a free trade deal but many other subjects.”
She continued: “It seems to me that on both sides we must ask ourselves seriously if all these negotiations are feasible in such a short time.”
Mr Johnson, however, has ruled out any extension to the transition period, and maintains that a trade deal is possible by the end of the year.
A government spokesperson said: “The prime minister has been clear that we will not be extending this implementation period.
“Both the EU and the UK committed to agreeing a future partnership by the end of 2020 in the political declaration and have agreed to work with great energy to achieve this."