French President Emmanuel Macron said he “is not sure” that a UK-EU trade deal will be concluded by December 31, the end of the Brexit transition period.
Macron said that negotiations from March will be “tense”, with fishing rights a key point of the dispute.
It comes when the UK government has signaled that it will publish its mandate for the trade agreement later this week.
In the document, ministers should reiterate their desire for a Canada-style deal with few tariffs on goods.
While a trade agreement is concluded with the EU, the United Kingdom is following most of the blockade rules.
The UK is in this transition period until 31 December following its departure from the EU on 31 January.
“I’m not sure an agreement will be reached between today and the end of the year,” said Macron in a meeting with fishermen in Paris on Saturday.
“However, it will become more tense because [the British] they are very difficult. ”
Macron also said that fishing rights could be a critical point in the negotiations.
The UK has said it will consider a fisheries agreement, but it must be based on the idea that “British fishing grounds are primarily British vessels”.
The EU has different ideas about a fisheries agreement.
Macron’s comments come when the British government has reported that it will publish detailed requests for a trade deal.
The warrant is expected to be signed on Tuesday and will be published online and in Parliament on Thursday, said BBC’s Jonathan Blake.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator, David Frost, called for a “Canada-Free Trade Agreement” relationship with the EU in a speech in Brussels earlier this month – and the mandate will repeat these demands. .
But Michel Barnier, EU chief negotiator, said that such an agreement cannot take place.
Barnier said the EU is ready to offer an “ambitious partnership” with post Brexit in the UK, but its “particular closeness” means that it would be different.
Under Canada’s agreement with the EU, which took seven years to negotiate, import tariffs for most goods have been eliminated between the two countries, although customs and VAT controls still exist.
- Is fishing the next big topic in Brexit talks?
- How do you negotiate a trade agreement?
The EU has repeatedly warned that the UK cannot expect continued “high-quality” market access if it insists on departing from the EU’s social and environmental standards.
Trade negotiations between the UK and the EU, led by Barnier and Frost, are expected to start in Brussels on March 2.