London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron held a phone conversation during which the latter was apprised that Britain wanted to explore every avenue to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union (EU), the media reported.
In a statement, a Downing Street spokesperson said that Johnson “confirmed the UK’s commitment to exploring every avenue to reach an agreement” during the call on Saturday, the BBC reported.
He underlined that a deal was better for both sides, but also that the UK was prepared to end the transition period on Australia-style terms if an agreement could not be found, the spokesperson added.
An Australia-style agreement means trading on World Trade Organization terms, with no specific free trade deal.
According to the spokesperson, Johnson told Macron that progress must be made in the coming days to bridge the significant gaps, notably in the areas of fisheries and the level playing field.
One of the major points of disagreement is the issue of fishing. While the UK wants full access to EU markets to sell its fish, the bloc full access for its fishing fleets to UK waters which the country does not want to provide, the BBC reported.
The level playing field is the idea that there should be measures in place to ensure businesses on one side of the deal do not have an unfair advantage over their competitors on the other side.
Informal discussions between the two sides will continue in Brussels next week.
The UK left the EU on January 31 and entered a transition period until the end of the year with all the rules, regulations and budget payments staying the same until then.
Both sides are now trying to negotiate a trade deal, which would decide, among other things, the tariffs (taxes) applied when buying and selling each other’s goods.