THE EU wants a Brexit trade deal with Britain and will work until the last minute to get a fair agreement, though not at any cost, European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said on Monday(19).
“It has to be a fair agreement for both sides – we are not going to sign an agreement at any cost,” Sefcovic told reporters after a meeting with Britain’s Brexit supremo Michael Gove in London.
“The European Union is ready to work until the last minute for a good agreement for both parties,” Sefcovic said.
EU and UK Brexit negotiators, Michel Barnier and David Frost, will discuss continuing trade talks over the phone around 1300 GMT on Monday, a spokesman for the former said.
Britain on Monday said that the door was still open if the EU wanted to make some small concessions to save Brexit trade talks, but that unless the bloc budged there would be a no-deal exit in 10 weeks.
The British pound extended gains and climbed above $1.30 on Monday as hopes grew that British and European negotiators might be able to salvage post-Brexit trade talks.
Against a broadly steady U.S. dollar, the pound strengthened 0.6 per cent higher at $1.3006. Against the euro , the pound gained 0.5 per cent to 90.33 pence.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said on Friday(16) there was no point in continuing talks and it was time to prepare for a no-deal departure when Britain’s informal EU membership – known as the transition period – ends on Dec. 31.
But Michael Gove, his Brexit supremo who favours a deal, has said that an agreement could be reached if the bloc compromised.
“It would be sensible at this point for them to go that extra mile, to come closer to us on the points that remain for discussion,” added British housing secretary Robert Jenrick.
“We hope that they could come forward now with some relatively small but important changes which respect us as an independent sovereign nation,” he told Sky News.
Negotiations broke down on Thursday(15) when the EU demanded Britain give ground. Issues still to be resolved include fair competition rules, dispute resolution and fisheries.
More than 70 British business groups representing over 7 million workers on Sunday(18) urged politicians to get back to the negotiating table next week and strike a deal.
“With compromise and tenacity, a deal can be done. Businesses call on leaders on both sides to find a route through,” they said.