Ahead of Thursday’s deadline, the Prime Minister has been asked to implement a six-month adjustment period for businesses, despite the referendum being held four years ago. Sir Ed and former Siemens boss, Huergen Maier, called for an implementation period in order to give businesses time to prepare, in a letter sent to Mr Johnson. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, industry leaders have claimed they are facing unprecedented challenges.
The letter read: “Uncertainty is bad for business at any time, but the combination of the challenges of battling the impact of coronavirus restrictions alongside having now to cope with the huge challenge of complying with new trading procedures, at very short notice, could be very damaging.
“Indeed, some in the business community tell us they are seriously concerned that the threat they face due to these twin challenges is existential.
“Industry bodies from every sector of the economy have warned that they will need time to adjust.
“So we urge you to negotiate the reasonable and practical measure of a three to six-month adjustment period in the EU trade deal, to save jobs and businesses.
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“By phasing in new rules, regulations and procedures, our businesses would have the breathing space they need to prepare and adapt.
“The UK will also have time to prepare for the logistical burden of customs checks at the border.”
Sir Ed’s comments come as the UK and EU rush to agree a deal ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
Despite the deadline, Lord Frost has allegedly indicated to the Prime Minister there may be “landing zone” for a deal in the next seven days.
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A deal must be reached soon in order for the agreement to then be ratified by the EU Parliament and Council.
MEPs in the Parliament will vote on any agreement which will then be signed off by the council.
However, due to the complexity and broad nature of the agreement, it is likely national parliaments will also be needed to ratify any deal.
If both sides agree, national governments can ratify a deal after 2020.
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With time running out for a deal to be ratified, the EU Council can apply certain aspects of EU law before ratification is granted by the national governments.
Due to the shortening timeline, the EU’s coordination group is now discussing how they can shorten the ratification process.
Originally, EU lawmakers had stated it would take approximately two months for a trade agreement to be signed off.
Regardless of what EU officials may be able to do with the timetable, Brussels sources have indicated there is no time for a deal to be agreed.
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One told Sky News: “There is simply no way that this will work as a mixed agreement any more – there is no longer enough time.
“We spent years signing off deals with Canada and Japan and, here we are, faced with a much bigger deal and we have six weeks left.
“We are, in diplomatic terms, in completely uncharted waters.”
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In comparison, the Japan deal with the EU was signed in July 2019 and was ratified in December of that year.
That agreement only required EU Council and Parliament ratification.
In contrast, the EU-Canada deal was signed in October 2016, was provisionally applied in September 2017 but has not been completely ratified.