BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain “has choices to make” if it wants a new trade deal with the European Union, three EU diplomatic sources said on Monday, adding that Brexit negotiators had yet to come up with mutually acceptable solutions for the three most contentious issues.
Ireland, the EU member state most exposed to Brexit, said Britain and the bloc had up to 10 days to unlock talks to avoid tariffs and quotas kicking in from Jan. 1, 2021, slashing an estimated trillion dollars worth of annual commerce.
“They haven’t quite reached where they had hoped to be,” one of the EU diplomats following Brexit said as talks between the bloc’s negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart, David Frost, resumed in Brussels.
A senior EU diplomat, also speaking under condition of anonymity, added: “Britain has choices to make.”
Barnier said on Monday talks with Frost were continuing. “We remain determined, patient, respectful. We want our future cooperation to be open but fair in all areas,” he said on Twitter.
A third EU diplomatic source said: “One cannot say things haven’t moved, since the negotiators are writing a legal text together. So there is some movement. But also way to go still.”
“The (issues of) level playing field, governance and fisheries are pending. As are serious decisions to be taken by the UK.”
The sources also wondered if the upheaval in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s inner circle - in which his top adviser and Brexit mastermind Dominic Cummings was ousted - was distracting London’s attention and making it harder for Frost to know exactly how far he could go towards a compromise to nail down a deal.
Johnson’s Downing Street office said there had been no change to its Brexit strategy after Cummings’ departure.
Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Mark Heinrich
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.