UK PM Boris Johnson has expressed his disappointment to the European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen, that not enough progress is being made in Brexit trade talks, his office said. The EU has exactly the same concerns.
Johnson spoke with von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel by phone on Wednesday. During the discussions, he “expressed his disappointment that more progress had not been made over the past two weeks” in the talks between London and Brussels, the prime minister’s office said afterwards.
The PM stressed “the desirability of a deal,” adding that he’ll wait for the outcome of the European Council meeting on November 15 and 16, at which the 27 EU leaders are due to discuss Brexit, “before setting out the UK’s next steps.”
Von der Leyen said on Twitter that the EU was also interested in securing a deal, “but not at any price.” She insisted that for the two sides to be able to finally shake hands “conditions must be right, on fisheries, level-playing field and governance.”
Took stock of negotiations with 🇬🇧 in a call with @BorisJohnson, together with @eucopresident. The EU is working on a deal, but not at any price. Conditions must be right, on fisheries, level-playing field and governance. Still a lot of work ahead of us.
Michel indicated that the EU was also unhappy about the sluggish pace of the Brexit talks. “We pressed again for progress to be made at the negotiation table,” he wrote on Twitter.
An unnamed EU official told Reuters that Brussels pushed back against what it considers the UK’s attempts to present fisheries as the last sticking point to be settled during the talks. Von der Leyen and Michel told Johnson that fishing rights were only part of a larger package essential for the deal to be achieved, including energy ties and financial services, among other things.
The UK is set to leave the European Single Market and European Union Customs Union on January 1, 2021. Both London and Brussels are hoping to reach an agreement in the remaining two-and-a-half months, but acknowledge that a no-deal Brexit is also a real possibility.
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