UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen have agreed to take a “firm decision” on a post-Brexit deal by Sunday amid warnings that “very large gaps remain” in their negotiations.
The revelation came after Johnson and von der Leyen met in Brussels for three hours of talks over dinner on Wednesday evening, reported Euronews.
“We had a lively and interesting discussion on the state of play across the list of outstanding issues…We gained a clear understanding of each other’s positions. They remain far apart,” said von der Leyen in a statement.
UK media quoted a source close to Johnson as saying he “does not want to leave any route to a possible deal untested”.
A good deal is still there to be done. But whether we agree trading arrangements resembling those of Australia or Canada, the United Kingdom will prosper mightily as an independent nation ?? pic.twitter.com/6z1Tlr1ltI
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 9, 2020
The source added: “Very large gaps remain between the two sides and it is still unclear whether these can be bridged.” Britain and the EU currently disagree on three major policy areas: European fishing rights in British waters, fairness in competition rules and the enforcement of a trade agreement.
Only three weeks remain before the UK-EU transition period expires, and failure to strike an agreement between two sides would compound the economic rupture, causing further upheaval for businesses on either side of the English Channel, reported Euronews.
Major changes will kick in from the New Year with or without a deal, when the UK leaves the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union.
The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, but as part of the withdrawal agreement, both sides entered an 11-month transition period to negotiate their future commercial relations.