Time running out for post-Brexit trade talks says Conte

Time running out for post-Brexit trade talks says Conte

As a year-end deadline for a post-Brexit trade deal nears and ahead of a crunch European leaders summit in Brussels this week, Italy's premier Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday urged "wisdom and political vision" from UK and EU negotiators.

Time is running out amid session after session of negotiations as we head towards the 31 December deadline for an agreement governing (trading) relations between the European Union and Britain," Conte told Italy's Senate.

Conte urged UK and EU negotiators to show "wisdom and political vision" in the remaining time available to reach a deal.

Italy would prefer to see an agreement - "even at the last minute" between the EU and Britain "but not at all costs", Conte said.

Any accord should be "balanced and fair", Conte underlined.

Britain and the EU are among the world's largest economies, he noted.

"We want an ambitious partnership with the UK, a future relationship that reflects the depth of our relations and the current economic, political and social equilibrium," Conte underlined.

German EU affairs minister Michael Roth said on Tuesday that the EU was working hard for a deal, but was also ready to trade from 2021 without an accord to avoid tariffs or quotas.

The UK has said it is ready if necessary to trade on World Trade Organization terms - which include quotas and tariffs - if there is no deal by the end of the 11-month transition period after Brexit on 31 January.

UK premier Boris Johnson said the talks were at a "crucial stage", but he has set a deadline of this Thursday to come to an agreement - after which he has said the UK is ready to "walk away".

The EU leaders' summit is taking place in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.