Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen have agreed that post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and EU should continue further to see whether a deal can be reached.
In a joint statement following a ‘useful’ phone call on Sunday morning, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said ‘we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile’.
The joint statement reads;
“We had a useful phone call this morning.
“We discussed the major unresolved topics.
“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 announcement of the continuation of talks comes after the two leaders had pledged on Wednesday to ‘come to a decision by the end of the weekend’.
On Wednesday, the two leaders discussed the trade talks over dinner in Brussels, but at that point, it was said that each other’s positions remained ‘far apart’.
Many had expected that talks would conclude on Sunday and lead to the announcement of a no-deal approach, however, talks are set to continue further and even closer to the end of the transition period.
The UK left the European Union on January 31 this year but is currently in a transition period in which it remains part of some EU institutions such as the single market and customs union. If no deal is reached and signed off by the end of the year, the UK and EU will have to trade with each other under World Trade Organisation terms.
With the end of the transition period on December 31, concerns have been raised that even if a deal can be reached at this late stage, there may not be time for it to be ratified by Parliaments in the UK and EU by the end of the year, especially given that the Christmas period is fast approaching.