Finland says UK trade talks at 'critical stage', can still succeed

FILE PHOTO: Finland Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen speaks with the media as she arrives for a meeting of EU General Affairs ministers at the European Council building in Luxembourg, October 13, 2020. Virginia Mayo/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU-UK talks on a new trade agreement from 2021 are at “a critical stage” but can still yield a “comprehensive and balanced” deal, Finland’s European affairs minister, Tytti Tuppurainen, told Reuters on Thursday.

“We are at a critical stage of the negotiations,” she said in a short phone interview. “The time pressure is huge and we all realise that time is running out.”

“We all have to do our outmost in order to reach the agreement. That’s the aim of the EU. We want to have a comprehensive, a balanced agreement with the UK.”

Tuppurainen said the EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, had full support of the bloc’s 27 member states.

“I am an eternal optimist and I haven’t given up faith. We all deserve to have an agreement,” she said.

“Taken all into consideration, the situation with COVID-19, the situation on global markets, it’s in everybody’s interest that we reach an agreement with a trading partner with trade stantdards so close to ours, so close to us geographically - and a close friend.”

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Marine Strauss