The president of the European commission said she could not predict whether the EU would strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK with little more than a month until the deadline.
Ursula von der Leyen told MEPs there had been “genuine progress” on some important questions but that others were unresolved. These “can make a difference between deal or no deal”, she said.
“These are decisive days for our negotiations with the UK but frankly I cannot tell you today if in the end there will be a deal,” von der Leyen said, according to the Financial Times. “With very little time ahead of us we will do all in our power to reach an agreement. We are ready to be creative.”
She said the EU would not undermine “the integrity of the single market” to get a deal with the UK by the 31 December deadline. If no deal is agreed the UK and its biggest trading partner will buy and sell goods with tariffs and restrictions under World Trade Organisation rules.
The target date for a deal to be announced has shifted back as the UK and EU have failed to agree on sticking points such as EU access to UK fishing waters and state aid for companies. MEPs have said ratification could be shifted to the end of December but that could prove unfeasible if there is no deal by early next week, the FT reported.
After the UK decided to override parts of the 2019 separation agreement, von der Leyen said strong governance safeguards were needed to make sure the deal was implemented properly.
“We want to know what remedies are available in case one side will deviate in future,” she said. “Trust is good but law is better.”