The European Commission President said trade negotiations are not yet “half way” towards an agreement despite the Prime Minister hoping to rubber-stamp the pact in July. Speaking in the European Parliament, she said: “We are now halfway through these negotiations with five months left to go. “But we’re definitely not halfway through the work to reach an agreement, little time ahead of us.”
We will do everything in our power to reach an agreement,” she told MEPs.
“We will be constructive, as we’ve always been, and we’re ready to be creative to find common ground with it, even where there seems to be none.”
She said the bloc would not back down in its demand for a regulatory level-playing field as the price for any deal.
But in a challenge to Britain, she said EU firms would maintain their high standards.
She said: “The fundamental issue at stake here is fair competition ready and willing to compete with British firms they’re excellent and our firms are excellent too.
“But it cannot be a downward competition, just think of labour standards or environmental protection.
“It should be a shared interest for the European Union and the UK to never slide backwards and always advanced together towards higher standards.”
Mrs von der Leyen hinted at a climbdown from the bloc’s hardline fishing demand to retain the same level of access to Britain’s fishing waters for European boats.
She said she now recognises the UK will become an independent coastal state after the transition period ends.
“There is no question. No one questions the UK’s sovereignty over its own waters, without any questions,” she said.
“But we ask for predicability and guarantees for fishermen who have been sailing in those waters for decades.
Published at Wed, 17 Jun 2020 15:31:00 +0000