EU, UK entering ‘last week or so’ of substantive negotiations

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that Brexit negotations with the European Union (EU) were entering “the last week or so” of “substantive” talks before the transition period ends on December 31.

Calling on the EU to accept a “point of principle” on fisheries, one of the sticking points in the talks, Raab on Sunday seemed to reject what is reported to be the bloc’s current offer on fishing — to return between 15 to 18 per cent of fish stocks currently caught by European fleets in British waters, Xinhua news agency reported.

On other outstanding issues, Raab told Sky News that it “feels like there’s progress towards greater respect” for the UK’s position on so-called “level playing field” commitments — a set of post-Brexit common rules and standards.

The UK and the EU resumed face-to-face post-Brexit talks in London on November 28 after an EU negotiator tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month.

The negotiations are in a crucial stage as time is running out for both sides to secure a deal before the Brexit transition period expires.

The UK and the EU started their lengthy and bumpy post-Brexit talks in March after the country ended its membership of the bloc on January 31, trying to secure a future trade deal before the Brexit transition period expires.

Commenting on the coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying economic crisis, Raab said both the UK and the EU “ought to focus all of our minds on doing everything we can to give the economy a bit of a boost”.

His remarks came as another 15,871 people in the UK have tested positive for for the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 1,621,305.

The country’s death toll has increased to 58,342.