After in-person discussions in Brussels that lasted hours, both sides said Wednesday evening that they remained far apart on key issues and a decision on the future of the talks would be made by the end of this weekend.
The last-ditch effort to propel talks forward on Wednesday began with a meeting and continued over dinner.
In a statement after the meeting, von der Leyen said negotiators would resume work immediately. “We had a lively and interesting discussion on the state of play across the list of outstanding issues. We gained a clear understanding of each other´s positions. They remain far apart,” she said. “We agreed that the teams should immediately reconvene to try to resolve these essential issues.”
A senior No. 10 source also told CNN that “very large gaps remain between the two sides and it is still unclear whether these can be bridged” but that the Prime Minister “does not want to leave any route to a possible deal untested.”
Failing to reach a trade deal could be particularly painful for the UK, already suffering the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.