The EU is determined to make a Brexit agreement possible but not at any cost, the European Council President Charles Michel said on Friday after a two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
Michel added that two topics are very important for the bloc: the level playing field and the fisheries.
“At the same time, to guarantee the Good Friday Agreement in the peace in Ireland and to guarantee the integrity of the single market, I repeat that the withdrawal agreement must be implemented in total,” Michel said.
Michel’s statement came hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the time has come for the UK to “get ready” for a no-deal Brexit on Jan. 1.
Reading a statement from Downing Street, Johnson said: “From the outset, we were totally clear that we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship based on friendship and free trade. To judge from the latest EU summit in Brussels, that won’t work for our EU partners. They want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries in a way that is completely unacceptable to an independent country.”
The EU leaders also discussed how to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Europe.
Michel said the member states agreed to coordinate and cooperate more on tracing, testing and quarantine.
He said that the governments will have to restrict freedoms that have a major social and economic impact, adding there is another option: “We've been doing this for a few months. We have to test and trace and isolate in order to slow down the pandemic.”
In the second day of the summit, leaders discussed strategic relations with Africa ahead of a meeting with African leaders in December.
“We convinced that we shouldn't rely more on support for investment, we should rely more on developing a partnership in our mutual interests,” Michel said. “And we should emphasize support for infrastructure.”
EU-China summit called off
Meanwhile, a long-awaited summit of EU and China planned for next month was called off on Friday due to surge in coronavirus cases.
Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the meeting will not go ahead as planned earlier.
“Unfortunately we will not be able to host this informal summit in November, we’ll have to give up this,” she said, adding that it was necessary to reduce contacts amid rise in new coronavirus cases.
Merkel was planning to host the EU-China Summit in Berlin on Nov. 16.