The EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier has warned that fundamental divergences must be overcome in trade neif Britain and the European Union truly want to seal a post-Brexit trade deal.
Mr Barnier assured he would resume online negotiations with his UK counterpart Lord Frost after being advised to self-isolate, he said, “After technical discussions this weekend, negotiations continue online today with Lord Frost and our teams. “Time is short. Fundamental divergences still remain, but we are continuing to work hard for a deal.”
The UK and the EU negotiation team were advised to quit face-to-face talks last week following a member of the EU’s team who tested positive for the coronavirus. Although they claim to be making progress, the most important issues like fishing and governance remain unmovable.
Some EU and UK officials strongly believe the talks are reaching breakthrough with some thinking that a deal could be possible early next week after a discussion between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
Time is short as negotiators have only five weeks to reach a deal before the end of the transition period comes by December 31. Meanwhile, Parliament, EU member states and the European Parliament will need to rubber-stamp any Brexit trade deal before it can be enforced.
Both sides are strongly looking to compromise some issues this week in an attempt to seal a deal before time runs out, with the EU diplomats saying that a concession by Boris Johnson on the level playing field could make the bloc back step on fisheries.
Meanwhile, Downing Street has insisted it will not accept any agreement that will hinder the UK from taking back control of its laws, borders and fishing waters.