Hopes of Brexit deal rise as UK, EU commit to going ‘extra mile’

European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said that sealing a trade pact with the UK was still possible before the country’s final break with the 27-nation bloc on December 31 but that the next few days of negotiations would be critical.

A senior EU diplomat who attended a closed-door briefing by Barnier on the state of play in Brussels said the tortuous trade talks could collapse but for now “the patient is still alive”.

“There might now be a narrow path to an agreement visible – if negotiators can clear the remaining hurdles in the next few days,” another EU diplomat said, adding that success depends on London accepting “inherent trade-offs” for a fair deal.

Despite missing multiple deadlines, Britain and the EU agreed on Sunday to “go the extra mile” to try to break deadlocks on access to UK fishing waters for EU trawlers and corporate fair-play rules in order to avert a turbulent split in trading ties at the end of the month.

“It is our responsibility to give the talks every chance of success,” Barnier said in a tweet after his meeting with EU national envoys, adding “the next few days are important” if a trade deal is to be in place for January 1.

Going into the meeting, he told reporters that differences over free and fair competition and access to markets and fishing waters still stood in the way of an agreement.

“There might now be a narrow path to an agreement visible – if negotiators can clear the remaining hurdles in the next few days,” another EU diplomat said, adding that success depends on London accepting “inherent trade-offs” for a fair deal.

Despite missing multiple deadlines, Britain and the EU agreed on Sunday to “go the extra mile” to try to break deadlocks on access to UK fishing waters for EU trawlers and corporate fair-play rules in order to avert a turbulent split in trading ties at the end of the month.

“It is our responsibility to give the talks every chance of success,” Barnier said in a tweet after his meeting with EU national envoys, adding “the next few days are important” if a trade deal is to be in place for January 1.

Going into the meeting, he told reporters that differences over free and fair competition and access to markets and fishing waters still stood in the way of an agreement.

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