Brexit: EU leaders call on UK to ‘make the necessary moves’ to reach trade deal
Written by News on 15/10/2020
EU leaders have called on the UK to “make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible” on post-Brexit trade.
At a European Council summit in Brussels, the bloc’s national leaders noted their “concern” that progress in ongoing UK-EU negotiations was “still not sufficient for an agreement to be reached”.
They also agreed that the 27 member states and EU institutions should “step up their work on preparedness and readiness at all levels and for all outcomes”, ahead of the possibility of the Brexit transition period ending on 31 December without a deal on a future relationship.
The leaders invited the European Commission to “give timely consideration to unilateral and time-limited contingency measures that are in the EU’s interest” due to the prospect of a no-deal outcome.
The gathering of EU leaders in Brussels was interrupted by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen having to pull out of the summit after a member of her staff tested positive for coronavirus.
She posted on Twitter: “I have just been informed that a member of my front office has tested positive to Covid-19 this morning.
“I myself have tested negative. However as a precaution I am immediately leaving the European Council to go into self-isolation.”
On the eve of Thursday’s EU summit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a phone call with Ms von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.
During the call, the prime minister “noted the desirability of a deal” but “expressed his disappointment that more progress had not been made over the past two weeks”, a Downing Street spokesperson said.
Last month, Mr Johnson had set this week’s EU summit as a deadline for an agreement, with the Number 10 spokesperson adding he would set out the UK’s “next steps” after reflecting on the outcome of the European Council gathering.
On Thursday, Ireland’s foreign affairs minister, Simon Coveney, said he believed “a deal can be done” but admitted the UK and EU remained “miles apart” on the issue of fisheries.
“There’s a lot of difficult work to do and I think it is going to take weeks rather than days to finalise this,” he told an Irish parliamentary committee meeting.
“I hope that by the start of November that we will be in the space of a deal in sight.”
In a warning to London, Mr Coveney added that the EU was “not going to sell out its fishing industry to get a trade deal on Brexit”.
“Both sides need to understand that,” he said. “Fishing won’t be sacrificed to get a deal here.”