This week, the EU and the UK will push harder to strike an agreement on their future trade relationship after both sides agreed “to go the extra mile”. A deadline to finish the talks had been set for Sunday, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed to an extension after discussing the major sticking points in a phone call. According to a joint-statement, the call had been “constructive and useful.”
The statement added: “Our negotiating teams have been working day and night over recent days. And despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over, we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile.
“We have accordingly mandated our negotiators to continue the talks and to see whether an agreement can even at this late stage be reached. The negotiations continue here in Brussels.”
The “level playing field” conditions for business, how any trade deal might be implemented and fishing rights are the remaining issues in talks.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Alan Winters, director of the Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, claimed there is “clearly” something Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen are not telling the public.
He said: “It seems extraordinary that these set of issues have been around for six, seven months.
“I reckon there is something else going on, something they are not telling us.
“Remember that 99.8 percent of the economy is not talked about in the press.
“It is just very strange that we have been fixed on just these three issues.”
Moreover, according to Mr Winters even if a deal is struck, it might take a long time before the “future relationship” is finalised.
Mr Winters predicted that a series of mini-deals that fall outside the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will have to be negotiated well after the end of the transition period.
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“For example, we will have a provision whereby we haven’t achieved much on business services but we will set up a system that allows us to go back and renegotiate it.
“It will take a while as the politics here are complex.”
Mr Johnson has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of an extension to the transition period, which is due to end on December 31.
The deadline for the UK to request an extension of up to two years was at the end of June.