Brexit: UK-EU trade talks to resume despite ‘critical issues’


The UK and EU have decided to return to the negotiating table to try to agree a post-Brexit trade deal.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen made the decision during a phone call on Saturday.

Negotiating teams will reconvene in Brussels on Sunday, and the leaders will speak again on Monday evening.

A joint statement from Mr Johnson and Ms Von der Leyen said “significant differences” remain between them.

The “three critical issues” that need to be agreed are fishing rights, competition rules and how any deal is enforced, with the statement adding: “Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved.”

But the leaders continued: “Whilst recognising 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.”

The UK left the EU on 31 January but remains under EU trading rules until the end of the year.

If a deal is not agreed by that point, tariffs – or taxes on goods – could come into force.

The two sides have been holding talks since March in an attempt to secure a deal before the transition period ends on 31 December.

But the same three sticking points have stopped negotiating teams coming to an agreement.

The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, said it “feels like a last roll of the dice, rather than ironing out a few last minute glitches”, and the next 48 hours would be “critical”.

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted after the statement was published, saying: “We will see if there is a way forward.”

Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheal Martin also took to Twitter, welcoming the news that the teams would resume trade talks.

He said: “An agreement is in everyone’s best interests. Every effort should be made to reach a deal.”

If an agreement is reached it will need to be turned into legal text and translated into all EU languages, then ratified by the European Parliament.

The UK government is likely to introduce legislation implementing parts of any deal reached, which MPs will be able to vote on.

And the 27 EU national parliaments could also need to ratify an agreement – depending on the actual contents of the deal.


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