German Chancellor Angela Merkel dampened hopes of a swift end to post-Brexit negotiations on Wednesday, even as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for 11th-hour talks in Brussels.
“There is just as before the chance of a deal,” Merkel told lawmakers in Berlin.
“I do not think that we will know by tomorrow already whether this is achieved or not. This I cannot promise in any case,” she added.
With Britain’s transition phase set to end on January 1, threatening an unregulated exit from the European Union’s single market if no trade deal is agreed, Johnson is due to travel to Brussels on Wednesday to meet von der Leyen in person.
Months of negotiations have failed to result in a breakthrough, with three key areas still unresolved: fishing, fair competition and the framework for implementing agreements.
Merkel stressed the importance of being prepared for failure.
“Because one thing is clear: The integrity of the single market must be protected,” Merkel said, pointing in particular to differences over competition rules.
“This question of fair competition in diverging legal systems is the really big question for which we need satisfactory answers,” she told the German parliament.