EU chief, Ursula von der Leyen has told MEPs this morning that a “very narrow path” now exists for a Brexit deal to be found although the next few days were “going to be decisive”.
In her address to the European Parliament, she said: “I cannot tell you whether there will be a deal or not, but I can tell you that there is a path to an agreement now. The path may be very narrow, but it is there”.
Despite many weeks of intensive talks between the two sides, the negotiations have stalled on a number of topics including fishing rights and the competition rules.
She said that negotiations over how any deal would be policed are “largely being resolved”, however, she said that the two sides were still very wide apart on fishing rights with discussions remaining “very difficult”.
“We do not question the UK sovereignty on its own waters. But we ask for predictability and stability for our fishermen and our fisherwomen”.
It is now believed that access to the UK’s waters by European fishing fleets is the biggest hurdle the negotiators will need to overcome with just two weeks remaining in which to come to an agreement.
A UK spokesperson said, “We've made some progress, but we are still very far apart in key areas."
In her address to the European Parliament, Von der Leyen said that the issue around business subsidies which is also referred to as the ‘level playing field’, had now been mostly resolved.
She said that the two sides were in the process of trying to agree “common principles” on when any subsidies could be offered fairly to businesses.
There had also been an agreement on environmental, social and labour standards which would not be undercut in an attempt to future-proof against unfair competition.
The EU President summed up here address by saying, “The next days are going to be decisive and I know that I have said this before and I know deadlines have been missed time and again. And in all honesty, it sometimes feels that we will not be able to resolve this question. But we must continue to try finding a solution. And it is the only responsible and right course of action.”
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson told his cabinet that the UK still wanted to find a deal, but not “at any cost”.
This afternoon at the Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Boris Johnson said he hoped that the EU would “see sense” and agree to a post-Brexit trade deal.
He said, "Every hope I have is that our friends and partners across the Channel will see sense and do a deal, and all that that takes is for them to understand that the UK has a natural right, like every other country, to want to be able to control its own laws and its own fishing grounds," he told parliament.
Image Credit: European Parliament
January 14, 2021