Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
BBC – Negotiators from the UK and EU are to begin a new push to reach agreement on post-Brexit trade after both sides agreed “to go the extra mile”.
A UK source said the “process still has some legs” but Boris Johnson has warned no deal is the “most likely” outcome.
A deadline to finish talks had been set for Sunday, but the prime minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed to an extension.
The pair discussed “major unresolved topics” during a “constructive” call.
They agreed to tell negotiators to carry on talking “to see whether an agreement can even at this late stage be reached”.
They did not say how long these latest talks would continue, but the ultimate deadline is 31 December, when the UK is due to stop following EU trading rules.
Without a trade deal in place by then, the two sides would begin trading on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, meaning taxes – or tariffs – would be introduced, potentially raising the cost of imported goods such as food.
Arriving at briefing for ambassadors of the 27 EU countries in Brussels on Monday, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said an agreement was “still possible”.
He told reporters a deal depended on agreeing terms for “fair and free” competition between firms, and “reciprocal access to markets and waters”.
The major stumbling blocks in negotiations have been over fishing rights, a level playing field for businesses to operate and on how any agreement should be policed.
BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said he was told that as the talks become more detailed, the more problems – beyond fishing and competition rules – are beginning to emerge.
media captionOn Sunday, Mr Johnson said the two sides were still “far apart” in key areas.
Ahead of the negotiators meeting in Brussels, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the UK was “not going to be walking away from these talks,” although the UK would not continue negotiations beyond the 31 December deadline.
However he added “quite significant progress” would be required in a number of areas for an agreement to be reached.
On Sunday, Mrs von der Leyen said it was “responsible at this point to go the extra mile,” despite a series of previous missed deadlines to reach a deal.
Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves welcomed the continuation of the talks and said the worst outcome would be to “crash out with no deal whatsoever on 1 January”.