Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a joint statement late today that a new trade deal was impossible to seal at this time “due to outstanding differences on critical issues”.
Prime Minister Johnson is heading to Brussels in the coming days in a bid to bridge the significant differences in the Brexit negotiations on the three thorny issues of fisheries, ensuring a level playing field and governance.
“We have agreed that the conditions for finalizing an agreement are not being met due to the remaining significant differences on three crucial issues: a level playing field, governance and fisheries,” Johnson and von der Leyen said in a telephone interview.
“We have asked our chief negotiators and their teams to prepare an overview of the remaining disputes that will be discussed in a private meeting in Brussels in the coming days,” the joint statement said.
European diplomatic sources and officials have emphasized that there has been virtually no progress in the Brussels-London talks today, and some have suggested that the parties may in fact be further away from reaching a new agreement.
A senior British government source said there was a strong possibility that an agreement with the EU would not be reached, saying that while negotiations were not over, no progress had been made since Friday.
“The talks are currently at the same point as on Friday. We have not made tangible progress. “It is clear that this must now continue politically,” the source said.
The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kensberg, tweeted that after the telephone conversation between Johnson and von der Layen, it seems that not much has changed”.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coweni said Wednesday was a strict deadline for reaching an agreement and that “political intervention from the highest echelons” was needed to break the deadlock.