The European Commission President is pondering a move towards a less comprehensive future relationship pact if it means reaching an agreement before the end of the transition period. During crunch talks with Boris Johnson, she pledged to never give up trying to get a deal before the deadline. Mrs von der Leyen has instructed her negotiating team to search down every avenue for potential compromises that means Britain leaves the bloc’s single market and customs union on December 31 with a ratified treaty.
European sources said this could include the creation of a stripped back arrangement before the end of the year to cover on the most economic sensitive parts of the UK-EU relationship.
The two sides would prioritise certain areas, such as trade in goods, in order to pave the way for a tariff and quota-free trade deal.
But areas that negotiators can rely on robust international fallbacks, such as police cooperation, could be put on hold until next year.
One EU source said the “bare minimum deal” would act as the basis for future discussions between Britain and the bloc.
They added: “The baseline has moved down significantly, we’re no longer talking about a broad and comprehensive trade agreement.
“At this end the trajectory for the best case scenario is a minimum trade agreement.”
The EU is willing to “try everything possible” to secure a Brexit deal with Britain in time, another EU source said.
After yesterday’s high-level talks, Mrs von der Leyen and Mr Johnson agreed to intensify the negotiation table.
They both handed added flexibility to their negotiators, Michel Barnier and David Frost, in order to reach a political understand by next month.
This could include more informal discussions, the exchange of non-papers and face-to-face talks when negotiations resume in the coming weeks.
Technical teams would then be brought in to draw up draft legal texts with the aim of EU leaders and the European Parliament voting on the terms in October.
But for now, Mrs von der Leyen is understood to be buoyed over the chances of a deal after her discussions with Mr Johnson.
The commission president wants the EU’s negotiating team to “take a step back” and review its demands for continued access to Britain’s fishing waters and the so-called “level playing field”, a source said.
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“We do not want to see this process going on into the autumn and then the winter.
“We all need certainty and that is what we’re aiming to provide.”
Mr Gove added the UK is “ready to be flexible” in how it secures a trade agreement with the EU and there is “no intrinsic reason” why a deal cannot be reached in good time.
He said: “The UK’s political will is there, our position is reasonable, based on precedent, and we still have the time to bring a deal home.
“That is why the Prime Minister has led the drive to accelerate these talks, to reach agreement and to ensure next January we leave the regulatory reach of the EU and embrace the new opportunities our independence will bring.”