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UK-EU trade negotiations, led by Barnier and Frost, are slated to begin in Brussels on March 2. France has warned Britain and the European Union (EU) of a fierce battle as they try to negotiate their post-Brexit relationship…reports Asian Lite News

SIBIU, May 9, 2019 (Xinhua) -- French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in the Grand Square in front of the Sibiu City Hall to attend the European Union (EU) informal summit in Sibiu, Romania, May 9, 2019. The leaders of the EU member states on Thursday agreed on defending "one Europe" and upholding the rules-based international order in their "10 commitments" declaration, made at an informal summit in Sibiu. (Xinhua/Chen Jin/IANS) by .
French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he was “not sure” a UK-European Union (EU) trade deal will be struck by December 31, the end of the Brexit transition period.

“I am not sure that an agreement will be reached between now and the end of the year,” the BBC quoted Macron as saying at a meeting in Paris. “Anyway, it is going to become more tense because (the British) are very hard.”

Macron’s comments come as the UK government signalled it would publish detailed demands for a trade deal.

The mandate is due to be signed off on Tuesday and will be published online and in Parliament on Thursday, the BBC said in the report.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, called for a “Canada-Free Trade Agreement-type relationship” with the EU in a speech in Brussels earlier this month – and the mandate will repeat these demands. But EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said such a deal cannot happen.

Under Canada’s agreement with the EU, which took seven years to negotiate, import tariffs on most goods have been eliminated between the two countries, though there are still customs and VAT checks.

UK-EU trade negotiations, led by Barnier and Frost, are slated to begin in Brussels on March 2. France has warned Britain and the European Union (EU) of a fierce battle as they try to negotiate their post-Brexit relationship.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian predicted the two sides would “rip each other apart” as they strove for advantage in the negotiations.

He also said it would be tough for the UK to achieve its aim of agreeing a free trade deal by the end of the year.

The UK government said it wanted a deal based on “friendly co-operation between sovereign equals”.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The UK formally left the EU two weeks ago but still trades like a member under a transition period which ends on December 31.

Le Drian said the two sides were far apart on a range of issues, BBC reported.

He said, “I think that on trade issues and the mechanism for future relations, which we are going to start on, we are going to rip each other apart.

“But that is part of negotiations, everyone will defend their own interests.”

Le Drian, a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, is the latest senior EU figure to warn that the negotiations will be difficult.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and chief negotiator Michel Barnier have both cast doubt on Boris Johnson’s aim to reach a comprehensive agreement by the end of the year.

Some points of tension have already come into focus with the EU rebuffing Britain’s call for financial services firms in the City of London to retain access to the single market even if the UK breaks away from European rules.

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