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Senior members of the European Parliament have hinted they are still prepared to veto the free-trade agreement if the Brussels diplomat doesn’t present a “sufficiently balanced” compromise. Their warning comes as Mr Barnier is locked in intensive online negotiations with UK counterpart Lord Frost as time runs out to secure a future relationship pact. Talks resumed online yesterday after they were brought to a halt last week when an EU official tested positive for coronavirus.
The Frenchman is expected to travel to London for face-to-face talks later this week.
Disputes over future access to Britain’s fishing waters and common standards, including state aid rules, are holding up a significant breakthrough.
With EU sources expecting a last-gasp trade-off between fisheries and the level playing field, some are now worried Mr Barnier will go too far in order to secure a deal and preserve his legacy.
EU Parliament Brexit sherpa Christophe Hansen said: “If there is a deal, I believe it will be sufficiently balanced that the European Parliament can give its consent.
“Otherwise, there will be no deal. Michel Barnier knows very well what we expect from him. And that is the reason why consent will be given.”
Boris Johnson is expected to personally intervene in the trade talks amid rising hope a deal can be secured in the coming days.
Downing Street said there are still issues that need to be resolved as talks resumed yesterday.
But the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are to talk to push an agreement over the line.
No10 said Parliament has shown that it can “act at pace” when it needs to pass legislation swiftly.
Brussels is hoping to have a pact signed off by Monday to allow a law to be passed in the European Parliament on December 28.
Mr Hansen said the bloc would have to meet Mr Johnson’s fisheries demands for an agreement.
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The Luxembourger MEP said: “There will be compromises to be made on fisheries. The status quo, that is somewhere we’re not going to land.”
Bernd Lange, the EU Parliament’s trade chief, said: “It’s already five past midnight. We need a text, otherwise ratification and democratic scrutiny by the European Parliament will be a farce.”
A No10 spokesman said: “We will take back control of access to our waters.”
He insisted there will no extension to the transition period.
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Irish premier Micheal Martin fuelled hopes.
He said: “I would be hopeful that by the end of this week we could see the outline of a deal. That remains to be seen. It’s down to political will.
“One must remain hopeful that a deal can be arrived at.”
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