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20 Nov, 2020 15:28

Post-Brexit trade deal still ‘some metres away’, but both parties optimistic despite Covid hitting high-level talks

Post-Brexit trade deal still ‘some metres away’, but both parties optimistic despite Covid hitting high-level talks

EU and UK leaders have expressed their optimism that a post-Brexit agreement is within reach, although plenty of work remains to be done as the chief negotiators were forced to postpone high-level talks due to Covid.

Speaking on Friday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave a positive update on negotiations as the EU and UK look to strike a deal. 

After difficult weeks with very, very slow progress, now we’ve seen in the last days better progress, more movement on important files. This is good.

The parties have been in deadlock for months over the issues of fair competition, fisheries access and dispute resolution, but von der Leyen suggested that progress on a particular sticking point had been made during the last-ditch talks. 

“Within the frame of the level playing field [on competition], progress for example has been made with state aid, but there are still quite some metres to the finish line, so there’s a lot of work to do,” she added. 

A senior EU diplomat, concurred, telling Reuters: “There really was a feeling that we are seeing a lot of momentum and that somehow we will find a way.” 

That optimism was also echoed on the other side of the English Channel.

A spokesman for the prime minister told reporters on Friday that the UK remains committed to making an agreement happen, adding, “we’ve been clear that we want to reach an FTA [Free Trade Agreement] as soon as possible - that has been our position throughout the negotiations and it remains our position.” 

Also on rt.com UK & EU suspend Brexit talks as Brussels negotiator tests positive for Covid-19

On Thursday, both parties agreed to suspend high-level talks as a member of the European negotiating team tested positive for Covid. UK chief negotiator David Frost tweeted that “the health of our teams comes first.” 

The negotiators will continue to work remotely on a deal that, if agreed, would come into force in just six weeks, when the UK’s transition out of the EU ends. 

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