Barnier: Only 'very narrow' path to post-Brexit trade deal remains

18 December 2020, 09:08 | Updated: 18 December 2020, 18:11

Michel Barnier warned there is only a "very narrow" path
Michel Barnier warned there is only a "very narrow" path. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has warned there is only a "very narrow" path to a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK as both sides stand at the "moment of truth".

He told the European Parliament in Brussels today: "It's the moment of truth.

"We have very little time remaining, just a few hours, to work through these negotiations in useful fashion if we want this agreement to enter into force on January 1.

"There is a chance of getting an agreement but the path to such an agreement is very narrow."

"We're not asking more nor less than a balance between rights and obligations and reciprocity, access to our markets and access to our waters and the other way round, no more, no less.

"It's also obvious that this isn't an agreement we will sign at any price or any cost.

READ MORE: EC chief says 'substantial progress made'

"I think I've always been frank with you and open and sincere. I cannot say what will come during this last home straight of negotiations. We have to be prepared for all eventualities."

Post-Brexit trade deal has 'narrow path to agreement'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the prospect of agreeing a trade deal with the EU is "looking difficult".

The PM said on Friday the onus is on the bloc seeing "sense" and making a compromise or the transition period will end on December 31 without a deal, which he acknowledged would be "difficult" in the short-term.

Mr Johnson reiterated "no sensible government" could agree to a treaty that does not give the nation control of its laws and waters, two major sticking points for No 10 in the negotiations as the brinkmanship continued.

Speaking during a visit to Greater Manchester, the PM said: "Our door is open, we'll keep talking, but I have to say things are looking difficult.

"There's a gap that needs to be bridged, the UK has done a lot to try and help and we hope that our EU friends will see sense and come to the table with something themselves, because that's really where we are."

Boris Johnson says Brexit negotiations "are looking difficult"

Last night Ursula von der Leyen said there has been "substantial progress" in Brexit talks but "big differences remain to be bridged."

Following a call with prime minister Boris Johnson on Thursday evening, the European Commission president said she welcomed progress towards a deal but warned the situation remains "very challenging".

She tweeted: "We welcomed substantial progress on many issues. Yet big differences remain to be bridged, in particular on fisheries."Bridging them will be very challenging. Negotiations will continue tomorrow."

A Downing Street spokesperson said the PM told Ms von der Leyen the UK is "making every effort" to comply with EU requests but the bloc's position on fisheries remains "simply not reasonable".

Mr Johnson warned negotiators needed to "shift significantly" if the two sides are to strike a deal by the Sunday deadline.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

People enjoy the beach in the late afternoon sun, December 23, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Young girl dies after deep 6ft hole she was digging in sand collapses on her at South Florida beach

Cliff Mitchell has been found guilty of multiple counts of rape, including three counts against a child under the age of 13.

How rapist cop who was recruited to the Met after a failed investigation went on to attack women at knifepoint

A resident looks for belongings in an apartment building destroyed during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Borodyanka, Ukraine (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

EU agrees new sanctions against Russia as Ukraine war’s second anniversary looms

Cliff Mitchell was found guilty of multiple counts of rape.

Former Met Police officer found guilty of multiple rapes and kidnap while serving in ‘sickening’ case

A cordon has been put up across Keyham in Plymouth after a WW2-era bomb was found

More than 1,000 evacuated after WW2-era bomb discovered at Plymouth home during garden building work

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi as he arrives for a delegation level meeting in New Delhi (Manish Swarup/AP)

Greek PM asks India to build global ties amid wars in Ukraine and Middle East

Indian farmers who have been protesting for a week to demand guaranteed crop prices wait to march to New Delhi (Altaf Qadri/AP)

Man dies as clashes erupt between police and protesting farmers in India

Polish farmers drive tractors in a convoy in Minsk Mazowiecki, Poland as they intensify a nationwide protest against the import of Ukrainian foods and European Union environmental policies (Czarek Sok

Poland concerned by pro-Putin slogans at farmers’ protests

Russian prison bosses at the Arctic penal colony where Alexei Navalny was "detained and killed" have been banned from the UK and had their assets frozen

Russian bosses of Arctic penal colony where Alexei Navalny was 'detained and killed' sanctioned by British government

Rishi Sunak would not repeat Ms Badenoch's claims when asked at PMQs.

Rishi Sunak refuses to repeat Kemi Badenoch's claim ex-Post Office boss ‘lied’ about delaying compensation

ChatGPT began speaking in Spanglish for some users

'It's gone crazy': ChatGPT users share AI's bizarre 'Spanglish' replies as tech firm admits 'unexpected responses'

Maxim Kuzminov, who defected to Ukraine, appears in a video released by Ukraine's Defense Intelligence agency in September 2023.

Russian defector gunned down in Spain 'contacted his ex' as body found riddled with bullets in underground car park

France Eiffel Tower

Striking workers close down Eiffel Tower for third day ahead of Paris Olympics

Richard and Debbie Nuttall have been named as the winners of £61 million

Lucky Brit couple win £61m Euromillions jackpot while on 30th anniversary holiday in Canary Islands

People clean debris after a reported Israeli attack on Syria (Omar Sanadiki/AP)

Two dead after Israeli missiles ‘hit residential area’ in Syria

People look down at a protest in Madrid, Spain as hundreds of farmers drove their tractors into the capital as part of ongoing protests against European Union and local farming policies (Manu Fernande

Thousands of farmers descend on Madrid for tractor protest over EU policies