UK, EU to resume face-to-face talks in London

European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers a press conference following a Special Meeting of the European Council at the EU Council building in Brussels on April 29, 2017.
The EU needs a “serious British response” to its demands to protect citizens’ rights, EU President Donald Tusk said on April 29, setting terms for launching new ties with the bloc after Brexit. / AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER (Photo credit should read THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP/Getty Images)

London, Nov 28 (IANS) The UK and the European Union (EU) will resume face-to-face trade talks in London on Saturday, the country’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost has confirmed.

“I look forward to welcoming @michelbarnier (EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier) and his team to London and to resuming face-to-face talks tomorrow. We are glad all are safe and well,” Xinhua news agency quoted Frost as saying in a tweet on Friday.

The confirmation came as the two sides had suspended their talks in Brussels, and later resumed virtually, after an EU negotiator tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week.

The negotiations are in a crucial stage as time was running out for both sides to secure a deal before the Brexit transition period expires on December 31.

“It is late, but a deal is still possible, and I will continue to talk until it’s clear that it isn’t. But for a deal to be possible it must fully respect UK sovereignty,” said Frost.

“We look to reach an agreement on this basis, allowing the new beginning to our relationship with the EU which, for our part, we have always wanted.

“We will continue to work hard to get it — because an agreement on any other basis is not possible,” he added in the tweet.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday warned that the EU is well-prepared for “a no-deal scenario” as crucial gaps remain in post-Brexit trade talks with the UK.

Giving an update on the negotiations at the European Parliament Plenary, she said the next few days will be “decisive”.

“I cannot tell you today if in the end there will be a deal,” she said, adding that the EU will do all in its power to reach an agreement, likely in a creative way.

Earlier this month, von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said that both sides would “redouble” their efforts to get a deal.

The UK and the EU started their lengthy and bumpy post-Brexit talks in March after the country formally ended its membership with the bloc on January 31, trying to secure a future trade deal before the Brexit transition period expires.

Serious divergences remain in level playing field, governance and fisheries, among others.

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