London, Dec 6 (IANS) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that trade talks between the two sides will reconvene in Brussels on Sunday, even though “significant differences remain.”
The two leaders issued a joint statement after a phone call on Saturday afternoon as both sides’ chief negotiators paused negotiations over major differences on some core issues, Xinhua news agency reported.
“In a phone call today on the ongoing negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom, we welcomed the fact that progress has been achieved in many areas. Nevertheless, significant differences remain on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries. Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved,” said the statement.
“Whilst recognizing the seriousness of these differences, we agreed that a further effort should be undertaken by our negotiating teams to assess whether they can be resolved,” it said.
“We are therefore instructing our chief negotiators to reconvene tomorrow in Brussels,” said the statement, adding that the two leaders “will speak again on Monday evening.”
The trade 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 means bilateral trade will fall back on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in 2021.
Britain and the EU resumed face-to-face talks in London last week after an EU negotiator tested positive for coronavirus earlier in November.