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Germany says UK must make substantive moves in Brexit talks

A German minister on Tuesday demanded “substantive” movement from Britain on fisheries, dispute settlement and state aid rules in post-Brexit trade, saying talks with the European Union were at a critical stage.

EU affairs minister Michael Roth said the EU was working hard for a deal, but was also ready to trade from 2021 without any accord to limit tariffs or quotas.

“We are at a very critical stage in the negotiations and we are extremely under pressure. Time is running out,” Roth said as he arrived for talks about Brexit in Luxembourg with ministers from other member states.

“That’s why we expect substantial progress by our friends in the United Kingdom in key areas: in particular on governance, ‘level playing field’ and fisheries.”

The talks are aimed at reaching a new partnership agreement with Britain on everything from trade to transport and nuclear cooperation from Jan. 1, when London’s post-Brexit standstill transition has run its course. Around a trillion euros’ worth of annual trade are at stake.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also said he wants to know by Oct. 15 if a deal is within reach.

Roth’s Finnish colleague agreed with Roth’s dire assessment.

“There are many open issues. Of course we do want to have an agreement with the UK, but not at any cost,” Tytti Tuppurainen said.

She added that the specific sensitivities of the bloc’s 27 member states needed more attention in EU-UK technical talks, including aviation, which is important for Finland.

France, which sets great store by fisheries, has so far shown little sign of willing to compromise with the UK on future access to fishing waters and sharing out quotas, despite growing pressure from others in the bloc to help unlock a deal.

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