Brexit talks on hold after European Union negotiator tests positive for Covid-19

Marco Green
November 20, 2020

In recent days, though, officials on both sides had privately voiced cautious optimism that a deal could be concluded as soon as next week, suggesting the comments by the two leaders may be an attempt to pressure the United Kingdom government to compromise. "We are working hard to find solutions which fully respect United Kingdom sovereignty, but it is far from certain that an agreement will prove possible and time is now very short".

'Some things on the level playing field have moved, albeit very, very slowly. Fisheries are not really moving anywhere right now'.

With Mr Barnier now in quarantine for up to 10 days, the Monday deadline appears certain to be missed.

With David Frost we have chose to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period.

The positive test raises major questions about how and when face-to-face talks could resume because of the potential need for the negotiating teams to self-isolate. With David Frost we have made a decision to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said it could take another two weeks for an agreement to be struck, taking the talks close to the 31 December hard deadline. I would like to thank the [European Commission] for their immediate help and support'.

12 2020 European Commission's Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom Michel Barnier centre leaves the Conference Centre in London with unidentified members of his team. The Brexit trade negotia
EU makes final push to reach an agreement with the UK

On Thursday, Mr Barnier tweeted that a member of his negotiating team had tested positive for the virus, as talks over a deal continued in Brussels.

"The teams will continue their work in full respect of guidelines", he said.

A UK Government spokesman said: 'The Commission has informed us that an official in their delegation has tested positive for Covid-19.

It was previously understood that European negotiators had hoped to have talks at the landing zone stage by this Thursday, as it will be the last time European leaders meet before the end of the year, meaning it will officially be the last chance for European leaders to discuss and ratify a potential Brexit deal. The latest round of talks was taking place in the Belgian capital.

Ireland, the European Union nation most exposed to Brexit, said there were just days, or possibly weeks, left to find a way to unlock trade talks, while a senior European Union official said there may no longer be time to put any trade deal agreed into force.

To guard against any failure to get a deal, France and Belgium, two close neighbours of Britain, asked at an European Union summit Thursday to speed up preparations for a no-deal scenario on January 1 when the sudden change of the end of a transition period without a trade deal could cause immediate disruptions in commerce and chaos at borders. A trade deal would ensure there are no tariffs and quotas on trade in goods between the two sides, but there would still be technical costs, partly associated with customs checks and non-tariff barriers on services.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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