Brexit talks making 'better progress', European Commission president says

20 November 2020, 20:27

Ursula von der Leyen said there have been "more movement" on important issues
Ursula von der Leyen said there have been "more movement" on important issues. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal have made "better progress" in recent days, particularly on important issues, the European Commission president has said.

Ursula von der Leyen gave the promising update on Friday, saying that while there were "quite some metres to finish", there had also been "more movement" on big issues.

It was a cautious but upbeat assessment on the latest round of talks and has raised hopes that a possible agreement may be in sight.

"There are quite some metres to the finish line," she said. "Indeed, time pressure is high without any question at the moment."

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The UK currently has until the end of the year before it leaves the single market and customs union - meaning the deadline will be tight.

This hasn't been helped by face-to-face talks being called off on Thursday after a member of the EU's team tested positive for coronavirus.

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Remaining optimistic, Von der Leyen added: "After weeks with very, very slow progress, now we have seen in the last days better progress, more movement on important files. This is good."

"Progress, for example, has been made on the question of state aid."

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According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's official spokesman, remote talks will continue over the weekend and early next week to try and reach the government's goal of getting an agreement "as quickly or as soon as possible".

Face-to-face talks will also resume when it is safe to do so.

"As soon as talks can resume in person, they will," the spokesman said.