After one week of intense trade negotiations in London, the chief Brexit negotiators from the UK and the European Union (EU) have agreed to “pause the talks” due to “significant divergences”.
Releasing identical statements on Friday night, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost said: “After one week of intense negotiation in London, the two chief negotiators agreed today that the conditions for an agreement are not met, due to significant divergences on level playing field, governance and fisheries.
“On this basis, they agreed to pause the talks in order to brief their principals on the state of play of the negotiations.”
If an agreement is reached it will need to be turned into legal text and translated into all EU languages and ratified by the European Parliament, the BBC reported.
The UK government is likely to introduce legislation implementing parts of any deal reached which MPs will be able to vote on.
The 27 EU national parliaments could also need to ratify an agreement depending on the actual contents of the deal.
In a bid to break the impasse, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “will discuss the state of play” on Saturday.
The UK and the EU resumed face-to-face talks in London on November 28 after an EU negotiator tested positive for coronavirus earlier last month.
The negotiations are at a crucial stage as time is running out for both sides to secure a deal before the Brexit transition period expires on December 31.
Failure to reach a free trade agreement with the EU means bilateral trade will fall back on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in 2021.
The UK and the EU had started their lengthy and bumpy post-Brexit talks in March after the country formally ended its membership with the bloc on January 31.