EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday she saw clear progress in the trade talks with the U.K., turning a post-Brexit deal from a fleeting possibility into an ever more realistic possibility.
Von der Leyen confirmed that the major problems had been reduced to just two — fair competition in the EU market and fishing rights for EU vessels in U.K. waters.
Even though she still spoke only of a “very narrow” path to a deal, she added that nontheless “I can tell you that there is a path to an agreement.” It was still far more optimistic than previous comments coming from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and even any assessment of success over the past months.
“This is now a case of being so close and yet being so far,” von der Leyen told the EU parliament, which will have to approve any deal brokered with the U.K.
Britain left the 27-nation bloc in January but for the rest of this year is still in a transition period that kept all trade ties the same with the EU. These talks deal with trading relations between the two sides starting on Jan. 1, which makes a tough timeline for the negotiations.
“The clock puts us in a very difficult position,” said von der Leyen.
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