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The EU summit is currently being held in Brussels where officials on the EU side have decided to give the UK another extension in an attempt to come to some sort of agreement. Talks held in recent weeks have made progress on several areas, but contentious areas such as fishing and state aide have yet to be agreed upon by negotiators.
The EU has confirmed it wishes to continue with trade talks in an attempt to thrash out a deal before both sides potentially plunge into a confirmed no-deal scenario, as time runs out on key elements of how the UK and EU will work together post-transition period.
However, the EU has urged the UK to “make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible”.
The UK’s chief negotiator Lord David Frost said the Prime Minister would set out his response on Friday.
It’s a snarky response from the EU – after months of negotiating, the bloc has demonstrated it will not compromise on key issues, beckoning the UK to cave on some of its terms in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Following the talks on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “In some places there was movement, in other places, there is still a lot of work to do.”
“We have asked Great Britain to continue to be willing to compromise towards an agreement.
“Of course, this also means that we have to make compromises.”
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the EU was ready to accelerate talks from Monday for the “two or three weeks that remain before us”.
Other key EU members have been insistent they will not compromise with the UK on certain terms – citing Brexit was not their choice and is essentially a British problem.
Arriving at the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said his country’s fishermen would not “in any situation” be “sacrificed to Brexit”.
He said: “We didn’t choose Brexit. Preserving access for our fishermen to British waters is an important point for us.”
Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the “shock” of a no-deal Brexit on top of COVID-19 is the motivating factor behind wanting to continue talks to arrive at a “comprehensive deal”.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “It would be crazy for the outside world if the UK and the EU will not be able to come to an agreement”.
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Providing the UK doesn’t jump ship and agrees on a final round of talks, there will be several more weeks of negotiations before it becomes completely clear in what manner the UK is headed out of bloc.
It’s unlikely Mr Johnson would ignore a plea from David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, making an extension a reasonable scenario.
A UK Government spokesman said: “There are still differences, with fisheries being the starkest.
“We need to get substance settled and not having a common text to work from has made progress doubly difficult.
“The Prime Minister’s September 7 statement was very clear about the significance of October 15.
“He will need to take a decision on next steps following the European council in the light of his conversation with President Von der Leyen, and on advice from his negotiating team. We cannot prejudge that decision.”
Should a deal not be reached at all, the UK will exit the transition period and begin trading on WTO terms as of midnight on January 1, 2021.
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