EU chief unsure of whether post-Brexit trade deal is possibleEuropost
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told EU lawmakers on Wednesday that despite the "genuine progress" on several important issues in post-Brexit trade talks with London, she "cannot tell you today if there will in the end there be a deal."
After months of deadlock, the head of the EU's executive branch told European Parliament that negotiators have made great strides on establishing terms of police and judicial cooperation as well as for social security arrangements.
"Also on goods, services and transport we now have the outline of a possible final text," the German politician said.
"There are still three issues that can make the difference between a deal and no-deal," she added: the extent of British compliance with EU social and environmental standards, how to govern disputes and fisheries.
Brussels and London are now homing in on an agreement on their future relations, with only weeks remaining until an end-of-year deadline that could see Britain crash out of the EU single market unregulated, disrupting business and trade.
Any deal would also need to be ratified, at the very least by EU leaders and the members of the EU legislature, and the British Parliament. This could mean convening the European Parliament for an emergency session in late December. With time running out, von der Leyen said she "was fully aware" of the situation it is creating for EU lawmakers.
Negotiations between Brussels and London are currently being held via videoconference, with a view to restart face-to-face talks this week once chief EU broker Michel Barnier can leave coronavirus quarantine.