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

Michel Barnier

Brussels sources said a number of influential EU states have called on the European Commission to significantly ramp up the preparations for a no-deal Brexit at the end of the year.

Progress is said to be being made "very, very slowly" on those two issues but "fisheries are not really moving anywhere right now".

The two sides are seeking to reach agreement on limits on government subsidies for industry, to prevent what the European Union regards as unfair competition with the UK.

"We are both close and far away".

'It seems that we are very close to agreement on most issues but differences on the three contentious issues persist'.

Barnier, along with his United Kingdom counterpart David Frost, chose to suspend the high-level negotiations "for a short period".

In his tweet, Frost said "the health of our teams comes first" and he was following the situation closely. Truss said Canada and the United Kingdom were negotiating a continuity agreement, which would ensure there were no disruptions to free trade.

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. In March, Barnier, Frost and several members of their teams were forced into isolation after either testing positive for, or showing symptoms of, Covid. With David Frost we have made a decision to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period.

"We have been, and will continue to, act in line with public health guidelines and to ensure the health and welfare our teams". I would like to thank the [European Commission] for their immediate help and support'.

Brexit trade negotiations have been suspended November 19, 2020, at a crucial stage because an European Union negotiator has tested positive for the coronavirus.

"We are now in the late stage of the negotiations and there is possibility of accidents in the last six weeks".

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman, Jamie Davies, confirmed that negotiations will continue next week, well past the mid-November date previously seen by the two sides as a deadline.

"Nevertheless, there is hope that the negotiations can be concluded quickly if and when the necessary political decisions are taken in London", the diplomat added after member state envoys received an update on the talks.

However, a trade deal needs to be sorted out soon given that the EU will need about 4 weeks to vet, translate any agreement into all languages and get the necessary approvals from member states and the European parliament.

Both sides are seeking an agreement to govern their trading relationship once the UK's post-Brexit transition period ends in January 2021.

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