LONDON – Britain and the European Union (EU) will resume face-to-face trade talks in London on Saturday, Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost said Friday.
“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,” Frost wrote on twitter.
His comment came as Britain and the EU suspended their talks in Brussels — and later resumed virtually — after a EU negotiator tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
The negotiations are in 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 this year.
“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 tweeted.
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 Britain.
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, the president and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said after a phone conversation that both sides would “redouble” their efforts to get a deal.
The two leaders had phone conversations several times instead of face-to-face discussions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Britain, like such countries as China, Germany, Russia and the United States, is racing against time to develop and try coronavirus vaccines.
Britain and the EU started their lengthy and bumpy post-Brexit talks in March after Britain ended its EU membership on Jan. 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, after rounds of talks.