Addressing Europe’s lawmakers on Wednesday, the European Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen said that progress has been made in EU-UK talks and although the path to an agreement is “narrow,” the possibility of clinching a post-Brexit trade deal is there.
“As things stand, 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,” von der Leyen told MEPs while updating them on the state of play in trade talks with the UK.
The head of the EU Executive confirmed the bloc’s chief negotiator’s comments that the two sides have resolved one of the three major issues that were impeding them from reaching an agreement, saying that EU and UK have found “a way forward on must issues” and adding that the two fields left are the so-called level playing field for business and EU’s fishing access to British waters.
“I am glad to report that issues linked to governance have now largely been resolved,” von der Leyen said, stressing that the following days will be “decisive.” She also stated that progress was made on state aid and a “big step forward” on standards, as the two sides agreed on a strong mechanism of non-regression that will ensure that their “common high labour, social and environmental standards will not be undercut.”
Earlier in the week, von der Leyen and the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson agreed to “go to the extra mile,” tasking once more their chief Brexit negotiators, Michel Barnier and his British counterpart, David Frost, to resume the talks, “even at this late stage.”
Should the EU and UK fail to strike a deal before the transition period comes to an end, on December 31, they will trade on the terms foreseen by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).