Dialogue should continue on post-Brexit trade deal, says Taoiseach

Dialogue should continue as long as there is the possibility of a post-Brexit trade deal, Ireland’s Taoiseach has said.

Creating a level playing field for commerce and access to fishing waters are the key outstanding matters.

Micheal Martin said 97% of issues had already been agreed between Britain and the EU.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think it would be an appalling failure of statecraft if we were not in a position to get a deal over the line.”

He added: “It is vital that we do not have an acrimonious break-up because that would be very damaging.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to speak around lunchtime on Sunday with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen about the future of the post-Brexit trade talks.

The negotiations started again in Brussels on Sunday morning, officials have confirmed.

Mr Martin said he hoped talks on a post-transition accord would continue beyond Sunday if no breakthrough was achieved.

“Where the dialogue continues, that gives me hope,” he said.

The level playing field means common rules that prevent businesses in one country from gaining a competitive advantage over those operating in others.

It is designed to ensure fair competition and is integral to the EU’s Single Market in goods, services and capital.

Britain is concerned about being tied to the bloc’s decisions in future and wants to assert its freedom as a sovereign country to set its own rules.

Ireland has argued that in reality Britain is unlikely to significantly diverge from EU standards in many areas and Mr Martin again noted that the UK was a “first-world country”.

The EU and Britain have also been struggling to resolve the issue of use of fishing grounds.

Mr Martin said it was important to agree frameworks for issues like the level playing field, adding: “With some degree of creativity a resolution can be found in that area.”

He said access to the European market was important to Britain.

“A resolution mechanism to resolve any future disputes is one that both sides, with a bit of creativity, can sign up to,” he said.

“Ninety-seven percent of this deal has been negotiated.

“The remaining 3% should not be beyond the capacity of both sides to bridge.

“That is why it is so important that dialogue continues.”

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