Face-to-face trade deal talks with EU ‘put on hold’ over coronavirus fears

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EU negotiators have opted to stay in Brussels after face-to-face talks over the future trade deal were “put on hold” because of coronavirus.

The negotiating teams decided to cancel their meetings, which were due to take place in London on Monday and continue all of next week.

Michel Barnier and his team are staying put in Brussels for the time being

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The groups opted not to meet in person because of the outbreak of Covid-19 but diplomats are keen not to put an end to their discussions.

Officials are looking to continue the negotiations via video conference calls.

In a joint statement, the negotiating teams said: “Given the latest COVID-19 developments, UK and EU negotiators have today jointly decided not to hold next week’s round of negotiations in London, in the form originally scheduled.

“Both sides are currently exploring alternative ways to continue discussions, including if possible the use of video conferences.”

When asked if the outbreak could result in an extension to the Brexit transition period, a No.10 spokesman said: “No.”