November 20, 2020
By Gabriela Baczynska and John Chalmers
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The EU and Britain are very close to agreement on most issues as time runs out for a trade deal but they are still at odds over fishing rights, guarantees of fair competition and ways to solve future disputes, an EU official told ambassadors in Brussels.
“We are both close and far away. It seems that we are very close to agreement on most issues but differences on the three contentious issues persist,” a senior EU diplomat said after ambassadors were briefed on Friday by an EU negotiator.
The chief Brexit negotiators suspended direct talks on Thursday after a member of the EU team tested positive for COVID-19, but officials continued working remotely to clinch an EU-UK trade deal that would come into force in just six weeks.
A second EU diplomat said of the three main sticking points between negotiators: “They still need their time. Some things on the level playing field have moved, albeit very very slowly. Fisheries are not really moving anywhere right now.”
An EU official, who is directly involved in the talks with UK: “Both of these are still very stuck.”
(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Hugh Lawson)