Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for the European Commission’s UK Task Force.
Thierry Monasse | Getty Images News | Getty Images
LONDON – Britain and the European Union run out of time to agree terms and conditions on a post-Brexit trade deal, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned.
Both sides have sent conflicting messages in the past few days about the likelihood of a trade deal before Britain leaves EU orbit in two weeks’ time.
Barnier spoke to the European Parliament in Brussels on Friday that the negotiations had reached “the moment of truth”.
“We only have a few hours to work these negotiations through usefully if the deal is due to enter into force on January 1st,” said Barner.
“There is a possibility of reaching an agreement, but the road to such an agreement is very narrow.”
An agreement would likely ensure duty-free trade in goods between the UK and the EU after December 31st, but major disputes over issues such as fisheries have continued to plague discussions in recent weeks.
Both British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, were dejected after a phone call on Thursday evening. Johnson said a deal is unlikely unless the bloc is willing to make concessions on fishing. In the meantime, von der Leyen admitted that an agreement would be “very challenging” at this point.
This happened just one day after von der Leyen announced that a “narrow path” had arisen for both sides to reach a deal before the deadline.
The pound sterling, which had rebounded in recent days on mounting optimism about avoiding a harmful “no deal” scenario, fell 0.3% against the dollar on Friday during morning trading in London, changing hands just over $ 1.3540.