Publishedduration1 hour ago
The UK and EU have decided to return to the negotiating table to try to agree a post-Brexit trade deal, despite “significant differences”.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen made the decision during a phone call on Saturday.
A statement said there were three “critical issues” to address.
Negotiating teams will reconvene in Brussels on Sunday, and the leaders will speak again on Monday evening.
In the joint statement from Mr Johnson and Ms Von der Leyen, they said fishing rights, competition rules and how any deal is enforced were still causing problems, 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 BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, said the next meeting “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 UK left the EU on 31 January but remains under EU trading rules until the end of the year.
The two sides have been holding talks since March in an attempt to secure a deal before this time, which is called the transition period, ends on 31 December.
If a deal is not agreed by that point, tariffs – or taxes on goods – could come into force.
But the same three sticking points have stopped negotiating teams coming to an agreement, and on Friday, talks came to an end with both sides saying “significant divergences” remained.
media captionUrsula Von Der Leyen: ‘Significant differences remain’ in Brexit trade deal
In their statement, Mr Johnson and Ms Von der Leyen said they “welcomed the fact that progress has been achieved in many areas”.
But, they added: “Nevertheless, significant differences remain on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries. Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved.
“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.”
Brexit – The basics
- Brexit happened but rules didn’t change at once: The UK left the European Union on 31 January but leaders needed time to negotiate a deal for life afterwards – they got 11 months.
- Talks are on again: The UK and the EU have until 31 December to agree a trade deal as well as other things, such as fishing rights.
- If there is no deal: Border checks and taxes will be introduced for goods travelling between the UK and the EU.