The UK is resuming talks with the EU in a last-ditch attempt to agree a trade deal before the country leaves the single bloc on January 1.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to the President of the EU Commission, Ursula von de Leyden, on Saturday, (December 5) but an agreement has not yet been reached.
Ms von de Leyden said “differences remain” and “no agreement would be feasible” if these are not resolved.
Lord Frost, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, resumed talks with his EU counterpart, Michel Bernier, on Monday (December 7) following a week of tense discussions in London.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove is also heading to Brussels for a meeting with Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission’s Vice President .
Issues are still being caused by disagreements over fishing rights, competition rules and how a deal would be enforced.
Two other sticking points included governance and the so-called “level playing field” – a trade policy term for a set of standards and rules that prevent businesses in one country gaining a competitive advantage over another. The issue has been at the heart of talks since negotiations started.
The European Union wants the UK to continue following certain rules including environmental regulations and ones around workers’ rights.
However, the UK has said Brexit is about breaking away from rules determined by Brussels.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have warned that many businesses are still unprepared for the changes that will take place when the transition period ends.
“With just weeks to go, businesses need answers, and they need them now,” said BCC Director General Adam Marshall.
“The government must do everything in its power to provide businesses with answers as they prepare to navigate a New Year like no other.”
Stay up to date with our daily newsletter, email breaking news alerts and weekly round-ups. To sign up, find out more and see all of our newsletters, follow the link here
He added: “If a breakthrough happens over the coming hours and days, the two sides must immediately set to work on pragmatic steps to smooth the introduction of the new arrangements from January, including easements for genuine administrative errors, clear procedures at ports, and fast help from customs authorities.”
South West-based chambers Business West is urging businesses to prepare to avoid delays and extra costs at the border after January 1.
Business West said firms that had previously only traded with the EU would need to complete customs declarations in January. It warned the number of customs declarations was predicted to increase from 55 million to 255 million.