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Anjum Shabbir
9th January 2020
External Relations & Trade Institutional law Internal Market

When Ursula met Boris: European School fellows

What emerged from yesterday’s meeting between Commission President von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Johnson? How will the dynamic and political relationship change now that former Commission President Juncker isn’t around, and what will it mean for the legislative changes that can be expected post-Brexit?

In our post detailing von der Leyen’s speech at the LSE, which evoked an accepting but firm position on future relations, she reiterated her slogan “old friends, new beginnings”. There was agreement on the common values, interests, and shared risks between the EU and UK, and a strong acceptance of the decision to ‘Brexit’, but also a reminder that this means that the relationship cannot be as close as it used to be. Von der Leyen expressed willingness to continue to negotiate in good faith and in line with the agreed Political Declaration.

But, she was realistic about time-frames and completion of that hefty process before the end of 2020, and said:

“With every decision comes a trade-off. Without the free movement of people, you cannot have the free movement of capital, goods and services.”


“Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, you cannot have the highest quality access to the world’s largest single market.”

In the legislative arena, we will have to look out for the EU’s stance on equivalence in the financial sector, the approach taken to the common fisheries policy (it seems Johnson doesn’t want to wiggle on that, on immigration, or the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU), and trade in goods. Those positions will become clearer in the longer trade talks yet to come.

See here for yesterday’s press release from the Commission.


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