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Brexit trade talks suspended Following EU negotiator contracts COVID-19

Top-level talks within a post-Brexit commerce deal had been suspended on Thursday following an EU negotiator tested positive for COVID-19.

It included uncertainty to talks that were under pressure amid a looming deadline.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier declared the suspension on Twitter but stated lower-ranking officials could continue talks in the meantime.

Any lengthy suspension of discussions will make it harder to get a deal to be reached before January 1, even when the current trade arrangements between the EU and Britain die.

“We’re talking with them the consequences for the discussions. We’ve already been, and will continue to, behave in keeping with general health guidelines and also to ensure the health and wellbeing of our groups,” the British authorities said in a statement.

London and Brussels are still divided over three important topics: fisheries, the way to test compliance with this deal, and criteria the UK must match to export in the EU.

The bloc accuses Britain of needing to keep access into the EU’s flourishing markets, similar to any EU nation, without agreeing to follow its own rules. The EU worries Britain will slash environmental and social criteria, and pump country money into U.K. businesses, getting a low-regulation financial rival around the bloc’s doorstep.

When there’s absolutely no deal, companies on each side of the English Channel will face tariffs and other obstacles to trade beginning on January 1. That would hurt markets on each side, together with the effect falling most heavily over the united kingdom, whose market is currently reeling under the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK left the EU on January 31, however, a transition period after EU principles apply to exchange and other difficulties run before the end of December.

Both sides had expected to acquire a trade deal by then to safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs and companies that could endure if Brexit contributes to a sharp end to present trade relations.