The German Chancellor said both sides should have “clarity” over whether an agreement is possible before the end of the transition period. She insisted EU and UK negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost will be “busy” when they resume Brexit talks next week. “The crucial weeks are now approaching in which we have to clarify the future relationship between Great Britain and the EU,” Mrs Merkel told reporters.
Brexit talks are said to be on the brink of collapse as both sides struggle to overcome their differences.
Mr Barnier could make an emergency dash to London next week in a bid to save the process.
He has warned member state capitals they may have to step in to convince Boris Johnson to soften his negotiating stance in the coming weeks.
The Frenchman believes the wrangling over a free-trade agreement with Britain has reached the “end of the road” and now needs a political push.
His downbeat assessment came after UK officials refused to fold to EU demands for continued access to the country’s fishing waters and control over its industrial subsidies policy.
An EU source said: “Barnier is ringing capitals to update us on the lack of progress.
“When leaders will be involved depends on how things develop across the next few weeks, but it’s difficult to be optimistic at the moment.”
Another insider added: “He thinks we’re coming to the end of the road and have gone as far as we can without serious political decisions made at the top level.”
And a third source said:”Pretty soon, either some political things have to happen or we are simply heading towards no deal – by accident or political will.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “Although there is still a lot of work to do, it remains our goal to reach an agreement and we’ll continue to work hard to do so.
“We have tabled a consolidated text to try and inject momentum into the talks, and we want to quickly move into text-based discussions as time is short, and there remains a lot of detail to work through.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg