BBC’s Katya Adler exposes what Boris and von der Leyen will discuss in Brexit crunch talks
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The Prime Minister and the European Commission President are holding a video conference on Saturday. The BBC’s Europe editor said the pair could thrash out what compromises they are prepared to make on remaining sticking points.
Writing for the BBC, Ms Adler said: “Does the UK actually want a deal knowing key concessions must be made, EU diplomats still often wonder aloud.
“Will the EU (finally) accept that the UK is now an independent country and cannot and will not sign up to following EU rules after Brexit – for example on fishing and competition regulations, ask government and Conservative Party members.”
The conference call between Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen follows the final scheduled round of formal negotiations this week led by Lord Frost and Michel Barnier.
Speaking ahead of the video conference, the Prime Minister told BBC Midlands there was “every chance to get a deal”, saying: “It’s up to our friends and partners to be common-sensical.”
Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland, he added: “They’ve done a deal with Canada of a kind that we want, why shouldn’t they do it with us?
“We’re so near, we’ve been members for 45 years. It’s all there, it’s just up to them.”
Meanwhile, Mrs von der Leyen echoed that an agreement was still possible but admitted time was running out.
She said: “It is good to have a deal – but not at any price.
“We have made progress on many, many different fields but of course the most difficult ones are still completely open.
“But overall, where there is a will, there is a way, so I think we should intensify the negotiations because it is worth working hard on it.
“We are running out of time – around 100 days to the end of the year – so it is worth stepping up now.”
Mr Johnson has insisted a deal is needed by the EU summit on October 15.
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Speaking after the ninth round of trade talks, Lord Frost said the “outlines” of a free trade agreement with the EU are “visible” but “differences remain”.
The UK’s chief negotiator called on Brussels to “move further” on the issue of state aid.
He added: “On fisheries, the gap between us is unfortunately very large and, without further realism and flexibility from the EU, risks being impossible to bridge.
“These issues are fundamental to our future status as an independent country.
“I am concerned that there is very little time now to resolve these issues ahead of the European Council on October 15.”
The EU’s chief negotiator admitted the two sides are still at odds over fisheries, governance and state aid.
Mr Barnier said: “To reach an agreement, these divergences must necessarily be overcome over the next weeks.
“We will continue to maintain a calm and respectful attitude, and we will remain united and determined until the end of these negotiations.”
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