Listen to this Article Now
By Isaac Newton Tetteh – GITFIConline.com
The UK and the EU are set to resume talks on post-Brexit trade later, with time running out to achieve a deal.
A senior UK government source said the prospects of a breakthrough were “receding” and accused Brussels of making new demands over business rules.
But a Brussels source denied this, with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier calling Friday an “important day”.
Both sides have to agree and ratify any deal by 31 December, when the current rules on EU-UK trade end.
If they do not, they will do business on World Trade Organization rules, meaning the introduction of tariffs.
The UK and EU teams, meeting in London, are urgently seeking compromises in key areas, including fishing rights and business competition rules, ahead of an EU summit scheduled for Thursday.
Rather than return to Brussels as planned on Friday, Mr Barnier will now stay in London to continue discussions.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the talks were “in a difficult phase”.
He added that the UK had “said all along” that it wanted the EU to recognize it as “a sovereign and independent nation” and it was “on the basis of that that a deal will be done”.
France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, said his government could “veto” any deal reached, if it did not satisfy his country’s demands, particularly on fishing rights – an area of contention between France and the UK.
“If there’s a deal that isn’t a good one, we’d oppose it,” he told Europe 1 radio.