Brussels, 20 Nov 2020 (AFP) – Negotiations between the EU and the United Kingdom over their post-Brexit relationship have shown progress in recent days, but there is still a lot of work ahead to reach an agreement, the Commission president said today. European, Ursula von der Leyen.
“After difficult weeks, with very slow progress, we have seen progress in the past few days, more movement on important issues,” Von der Leyen told a news conference, clarifying that “there is still a lot of work” ahead to close the deal this year.
Direct talks in Brussels between the two main negotiators – the Frenchman Michel Barnier and the Britishman David Frost – had to be interrupted yesterday by a case of covid-19 in the European team.
The British negotiating team has decided to return to London today, and negotiations will resume virtually from next week.
Von der Leyen said today that the three main points of disagreement – fishing rights, legal Brexit management and state aid – remain unresolved.
“There have been advances in the issue of state subsidies, but we still have a few meters to go to reach the goal. So there is still a lot of work ahead”, he added.
She acknowledged that “the pressure of deadlines is very high, no doubt.”
Any possible agreement on how the EU-UK trade relationship will function from 2021 must be sealed and ratified before 31 December, when the transition period established after the formal withdrawal from London ends.
“Our team is committed and works tirelessly, day and night, to meet the deadline. We have to finish this by the end of the year”, he stressed.