LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will explore every avenue for a trade deal with the European Union but progress to bridge significant gaps needs to be made in the coming days, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday.
Johnson has set a deadline of the Oct. 15 EU summit for agreement on a deal, and the EU is seeking a few more concessions before entering the final phase of negotiations.
“(Johnson) confirmed the UK’s commitment to exploring every avenue to reach an agreement,” Johnson’s Downing Street office said in a read-out of the call.
“The Prime Minister emphasised that progress must be made in the coming days to bridge the significant gaps, notably in the areas of fisheries and the level playing field, through the process of intensive talks between Chief Negotiators.”
The two chief negotiators, the EU’s Michel Barnier and Britain’s David Frost, say they are inching towards a deal ahead of the Oct. 15 deadline, though they have underscored that important gaps remain.
Johnson told Macron that Britain wanted a deal, but not at any price.
“He underlined that a deal was better for both sides, but also that the UK was prepared to end the transition period on Australia-style terms if an agreement could not be found,” Johnson’s office said.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout, Editing by William Maclean)