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UK, EU remain hopeful of post-Brexit trade deal

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London | Saturday, 2020 8:15:07 AM IST
Britain and the European Union (EU) remain hopeful of a post-Brexit trade deal despite talks are currently in a difficult phase, local media reported.

Brexit trade talks are set to continue on Friday night as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier remains in London, Sky News reported.

On Thursday, a senior British government source accused the EU team of "bringing new elements into the negotiation" at the 11th hour, adding that a breakthrough was "still possible in the next few days but that prospect is receding", according to the BBC.

It quoted British Business Secretary Alok Sharma that the talks were "in a difficult phase" and that the country wanted the EU to recognize it as "a sovereign and independent nation" for any deal that can be reached, Xinhua news agency reported.

French Minister of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune has said his government could "veto" any deal reached, if it did not satisfy his country's demands, particularly on fishing rights.

However, European Council President Charles Michel urged the EU's 27 member states, which would each have to ratify any trade deal with Britain, to maintain "unity" as negotiations continue, the BBC reported.

Meanwhile, the London-based Financial Times reported that hopes remain on both sides that the last-minute bust-up can be resolved and a deal be reached by next Monday or Tuesday, ahead of a European Council meeting in Brussels slated for Thursday next week.

Britain and the EU resumed face-to-face talks in London last Saturday after an EU negotiator tested positive for coronavirus earlier in November.

The negotiations are at a crucial stage as time is running out for both sides to secure a deal before the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year. Failure to reach a free trade agreement with the EU means bilateral trade will fall back on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in 2021.

To oil the negotiations, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are reportedly to hold phone conversation in the coming hours or days, according to some British media reports.

The two leaders had phone conversations several times instead of face-to-face discussions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To bring life back to normal, countries including Germany, China, Russia, and the United States are racing against time to find a vaccine.

--IANS int/

( 400 Words)

2020-12-05-02:00:14 (IANS)

 
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