he European Union’s chief executive, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Wednesday that the bloc will do its best to seal an agreement on new ties with Britain by the end of the year but will not compromise its core values, notably on fair competition.
Britain left the EU, the world’s largest trading bloc, on Jan. 31 after 47 years of membership, to the huge regret of the EU, and there has been little progress on designing a new relationship with a year-end deadline looming.
“The negotiations with the UK always promised to be difficult and they have not disappointed,” von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, told the European Parliament.
“We are now halfway through these negotiations with five months left to go. But we’re definitely not halfway through the work to reach an agreement … We will do all in our power to reach an agreement.”
She said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had confirmed to her this week that London would not seek to prolong negotiations on a new EU-UK trade deal beyond December.