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Prime minister Stefan Lofven said it would now be “very difficult” to reach a deal after Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen failed to break the deadlock. Arriving at the European Council summit in Brussels, Mr Lofven said: “I’m a bit more gloomy today. “As far as I hear, there was no progress made in the recent days. It’s problematic, of course.
“That is a huge challenge we’ve always said that we are preparing for the worst… hoping for the best.
“And now, it seems, difficult, it’s a difficult situation.”
European leaders have queued up to insist that the bloc should be ready for a no-deal Brexit when the transition period expires at the end of the year.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told reporters the contigency measures should be ready to go “from the first minutes” of January 1, 2021.
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Arriving at the summit, European Council President Charles Michel said the debate on Brexit would be short between EU leaders.
He said the bloc was united behind its Brexit chief, Michel Barnier, and trusted him to defend their interests.
Mr Michel said: “Negotiations are still ongoing, we have maintained a clear mandate on the basis of which the negotiator represents the interests of the union. You know economic fair-play, governance, the issue of respecting the withdrawal agreement and the question of fisheries are essential.
“We want to continue negotiating but we also want to continue defending the European interests.”
Arriving at the European Council summit in Brussels, Irish PM Micheal Martin said: “I will be discussing with my colleagues the situation in relation to Brexit, and the importance of doing everything we possible can to achieve a trading deal so the future relationship with the United Kingdom and the European Union is one that is sustainable, solid and harmonious into the future.
“But it is very difficult, and from talking to colleagues no one understates the challenges that lay ahead – but it’s important for the citizens of Europe we do everything we possibly can to get an agreement.”
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Ursula von der Leyen said: “I had a very long conversation yesterday night with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“It was a good conversation but it is difficult. We are willing to grant access to the single market to our British friends – it is the largest single market in the world.
“But the conditions have to be fair. They have to be fair for our workers and for our companies, and this fine balance of fairness has not been achieved so far.
“Our negotiators are still working and we will take a decision on Sunday.”
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This morning the European Commission unveiled its no-deal Brexit contigency measures amid fears that its officials will fail to broker a deal with Britain.
Eurocrats have drawn up plans to maintain EU fishing rights in British waters, and protect aviation and road transport links between the UK and Continent.
They are working on a new regulation to create an “appropriate legal framework” to enable EU boats to access the UK’s fishing grounds.
With the trade negotiations on the brink of collapse, Brussels will propose arrangements for “continued reciprocal access by EU and UK vessels to each others’ waters after December 31, 2020”.
The EU Commission adds: “In order to guarantee the sustainability of fisheries and in light of the importance of fisheries for the economic livelihood of many communities, it is necessary to facilitate the procedures of authorisation of fishing vessels.”
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