EU sees ‘narrow path’ to Brexit deal after deadline ditched

15 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

BRUSSELS: EU negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday signalled there was a “narrow path” to a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain, as key sticking points remain after both sides abandoned a supposed make-or-break deadline, reports AFP.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula van der Leyen pledged to “go the extra mile” on Sunday as they side-stepped a self-imposed cut-off point to end talks if there was no progress towards a pact.

Johnson insists it remains “most likely” that Britain will crash out of the globe’s largest single market on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms by year’s end as the two sides spar over regulating future standards and fishing.

But von der Leyen on Monday said “there is movement. That is good”.

“We are on the very last mile to go. But it is an essential one,” she told a conference organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

An EU diplomat said following a briefing from Barnier that “there might now be a narrow path to an agreement visible - negotiators can clear the remaining hurdles in the next few days”.

“There has been some progress in the negotiations over the last few days, but - sometimes substantial - gaps still need to be bridged in important areas like fisheries, governance and level playing field,” the diplomat said.