British and EU negotiators are to meet in Brussels on Sunday in a late bid to resolve ongoing “significant differences” between the two sides as they seek to agree a trade deal before the end of the year deadline.

The reconvening of talks was confirmed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a joint statement following their phone call on Saturday, which was in itself a bid to overcome the continuing deadlock. 

“In a phone call today on the ongoing negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom, we welcomed the fact that progress has been achieved in many areas,” the statement read. 

Nevertheless, significant differences remain on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries. Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved.

The two leaders said they were instructing their respective negotiating teams to meet again in Brussels on Sunday, with Johnson and von der Leyen due to talk again by phone on Monday. 

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin welcomed news of the talks reconvening, tweeting that “an agreement is in everyone’s best interests,” and “every effort should be made to reach a deal.”

I welcome the fact that negotiators will resume their discussions on an EU and UK trade deal in Brussels tomorrow. An agreement is in everyone’s best interests. Every effort should be made to reach a deal.

The current transition period for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is due to expire on December 31.  

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