British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels for talks with European Union leaders, in a last-ditch attempt to break the deadlock in negotiations on post-Brexit trade.
The face-to-face meeting was arranged after Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen failed to make a breakthrough in a telephone conversation on Monday afternoon.
“We asked our Chief Negotiators and their teams to prepare an overview of the remaining differences to be discussed in a physical meeting in Brussels in the coming days,” they said.
But Monday’s phone call did not produce the breakthrough needed to strike a deal, just a little more than three weeks before the UK is set to exit the EU’s single market and customs union.
The UK officially left the EU in January but entered a transition period in which trading arrangements—such as tariffs and quotas—remain unaltered. That period ends at midnight on Dec. 31.
If no trade deal with the EU is reached by then, Britain will default to trading with the 27 EU countries under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
UK negotiators are demanding that the deal respect the sovereignty that many Brexit voters felt was undermined by EU membership. However, the EU is unwilling to set up a deal too similar to deals with far-flung nations such as Canada, saying that the proximity of the UK brings different dynamics into play.