BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is willing to move in negotiations on future EU-UK relations, but Britain must make a bigger effort to do the same in talks next week, the EU trade chief said on Thursday.
EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan told EU lawmakers that the negotiations had not made much progress to date.
“Perhaps the United Kingdom has come to the conclusion that there’s not going to be a deal. I hope not because we want a deal, but speed is of the essence because time is short,” he told the trade committee of the European Parliament, before the next round of negotiations next week.
Britain told the EU on Wednesday it needed to break a fundamental impasse to clinch a Brexit trade deal by the end of the year and said an agreement on fisheries might not be ready by July.
“We hope that we will see a bigger effort than we’ve seen to date from the United Kingdom side to move on certain issues, because we stand ready to move on ours, to move forward some of the solutions that are required on many issues of concern to both sides,” he said.
Hogan said that the UK stance might represent a negotiating strategy rather than issues of substance, adding that the talks needed “confidence-building measures” next week.
The United Kingdom left the EU on Jan. 31, but the main terms of its membership remain in place during a transition period until the end of this year, allowing time to negotiate a new free-trade deal with the bloc.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop)