British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed Saturday to “work intensively” to reach a post-Brexit trade agreement, after a summit between them via video technology.
The two officials spoke about this aspect after the end of a round of negotiations between London and Brussels. At the conclusion of the tour, the two sides stated that there are significant obstacles to reaching an agreement.
The British government said in a statement, “We directed the chief negotiators to work intensively to bridge the gap” between the two sides, adding that they “agreed to talk periodically about the issue.”
The British statement said that officials “supported the assessment of both chief negotiators that progress had been made in recent weeks, but that significant gaps remained, particularly in the areas of fisheries, equal opportunity and governance.”
Britain officially left the European Union on January 31, but is still bound by most of the Union’s rules during the transitional period that ends on December 31.
On Friday, British and European negotiators said that months-long discussions of a future trade deal were still at a dead end in key areas.
London urged the European Union to make room to avoid a “devastating lack of agreement” at the end of the year.
The two sides set a European summit on October 15, to be the last date by which an agreement can be reached, so that it can be ratified in time for it to take effect before the end of the year.
Earlier, the chief negotiator for the European Union, Michel Barnier, warned of serious differences that still exist with Britain.
Barnier said that after 4 days of negotiations in Brussels, there were still “persistent and serious divergences on matters of great importance to the European Union.”
For her part, the German Chancellor emphasized that the coming days will be “crucial” to achieve a breakthrough in the stalled talks between the European Union and Britain regarding post-Brexit trade relations.
Merkel said that negotiations are now entering a decisive stage, and “it will become clear in the next few days whether we are making progress or not,” warning that the British bill to change part of the separation agreement was a “bitter setback.”