And it is absurd, the British say, for an independent country to promise to mirror Brussels rules forever, or to pretend that fishing quotas should not change over time, given that fish move and fish stocks change.
But the Europeans complain that Britain wants to cherry pick bits of previous trade deals with countries that are not comparable, like South Korea or Canada, given their geographical separation.
Stefaan De Rynck, a senior adviser to Mr. Barnier, said last month that “the U.K. will always be special to us,” but it is also right next door, and proximity matters in trade. “Every deal is custom-made,” he said. “The U.K. can’t say I want a little bit of South Korea, a little of Mexico, Canada and Japan on the side.”
Brussels also complains that Mr. Johnson is backtracking on the existing agreement governing the island of Ireland to ensure that the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic — now the border between the United Kingdom and the European Union — remains as open as it is now. While the deal allows European officials to be present during checks at Northern Irish ports and airports, Britain has objected to those officials keeping an office in Belfast.
Neither side is really ready for what will be in the end “a hard Brexit,” let alone a “no-deal Brexit,” said Fabian Zuleeg, head of the European Policy Center, a think tank in Brussels. As an indication that Britain wants to avoid too much disruption, the government announced last week that full border controls on goods entering from the European Union would not apply until at least July 2021.
That approach will allow most importers of “standard goods” up to six months to complete customs declarations and to pay tariffs, if any apply. The announcement was praised by British trade associations, because it would reduce the expected backlog at British ports.