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 here on Saturday.
“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.
UK 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.