Michel Barnier says EU-UK trade talks could continue in January

Michel Barnier says EU-UK trade talks could continue in January

Talks on a trade agreement between Britain and the European Union could continue in the New Year if no agreement is reached, EU sources have cited Michel Barnier as saying.

A European source confirmed to Euronews reports from the AFP that the EU’s chief negotiator said he would not close the door on the United Kingdom and that he remains ready to negotiate even beyond January 1.

Eleventh-hour negotiations on future relations between the U.K. and EU remain stuck over fisheries, two EU diplomats said Tuesday, adding that Brussels is willing to keep negotiating into the new year to break the deadlock.

Following a briefing by chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to the bloc’s ambassadors, one diplomat reported that “progress has been made” and that “most issues are preliminarily closed or close to being agreed.”

“However, differences on fisheries remain difficult to bridge,” the diplomat said, adding: “Unfortunately, the U.K. is not moving enough yet to clinch a fair deal on fisheries.“ The diplomat said that EU negotiators will be making “a last push now to make progress and to clinch a deal acceptable for both sides.“

The two sides continue to disagree on three significant policy areas: European fishing rights in British waters, EU demands for fair competition rules and the question of how trade disputes will be resolved.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday ahead of a meeting in Brussels with EU ambassadors, Barnier said: “We are really in a crucial moment and we are giving it a final push,” Barnier told journalists on Tuesday.

The diplomat, who spoke under condition of anonymity, added: “The EU will not close its door to the UK and remains ready to negotiate beyond the 1st of January.”

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