LONDON (Reuters) – Face-to-face negotiations between Britain and the European Union over a trade deal restarted on Saturday, in a last-ditch attempt to find agreement with just five weeks to go before their current relationship ends.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier arrived for talks in London on Saturday morning. He said on Friday night that he was “very happy” to be back in the city and would keep working with “patience and determination”.
Barnier and Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost are working to secure a deal before the UK’s transition period with the EU ends on Dec. 31. Both sides are calling for the other to compromise on the three main issues of contention – fishing, state aid and how to resolve any future disputes.
Britain left the bloc on Jan. 31 this year and a “no-deal” final exit would snarl borders, spook financial markets and disrupt delicate supply chains that stretch across Europe and beyond — just as the world grapples with the vast economic cost of the COVID-19 outbreak.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin on Friday evening. Johnson underlined his commitment to reaching a deal that respects the sovereignty of the UK, according to a UK statement.
On the major sticking point of fishing, some media reports on Friday suggested that Britain had rejected an EU proposal on the value of fish quota that European fleets catch in British waters that are due to be restored to the UK.
The Telegraph newspaper reported that the EU was set to concede on Brexit fishing rights.
Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Frances Kerry