EU wants a trade deal with Britain, but cannot exclude 'no-deal' - Sefcovic

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union wants a trade deal with Britain, but, as time is running out to reach one, the bloc cannot exclude that it will be impossible to reach agreement before the end of the year, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said.

Speaking to the European Parliament, Sefcovic said the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his team had the EU’s full support.

“In case we reach an agreement, which is our objective, both parties will have to ensure ratification in time for an entry in to force by Jan 1, 2021. This will need some time,” he said.

“If this is not the case, we will be in the no-deal territory. Given that we are less than 100 days away from this day we cannot exclude this scenario,” he said.

Sefcovic also said that Britain’s decision to push ahead with its internal market bill which explicitly broke the country’s withdrawal treaty with the EU undermined London’s credibility in talks.

“The full and timely implementation of the withdrawal agreement is simply not debatable,” Sefcovic said.

“The fact that our British friends now all of a sudden proposed a draft bill that is by its very nature a breach of the withdrawal agreement is a heavy blow to the British signature and reliability,” Sefcovic said.

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Marine Strauss