Emmanuel Macron 'not sure' if a UK-EU trade deal can be struck this year
French President Emmanual Macron has said he’s “not sure” that an UK-EU trade deal can be reached by the end of the year.
And he added: “Anyway, it is going to become more tense because [the British] are very hard."
At a meeting in Paris with French fishermen on Saturday, Mr Macron also said fishing rights could be a sticking point in negotiations.
His comments come as the UK government is set to publish its mandate for trade negotiations later this week.
Boris Johnson has previously hinted a deal could be reached on fishing rights, but added: “British fishing grounds are first and foremost for British boats.”
The UK’s full trading stance is expected to be made public and presented to Parliament on Thursday, according to the BBC.
It is expected the government will call for a Canada-style free trade agreement, but this arrangement has been ruled out by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
Meanwhile, Britain is claiming the EU is still confused over its approach to the upcoming negotiations.
A source close to the talks told The Telegraph: "On the UK side, progress has been remarkably smooth, with a clear decision-making framework in place and a sense of unity amongst ministers.
"By contrast, the EU seem divided, distracted by other issues like [the Elgin Marbles], instead of the important decisions on what our trading relationship will actually look like.
“The new plan is for them to approve their mandate on February 25 but it’s anyone’s guess whether they will."
The second round of talks, led by Mr Barnier and the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost, are set to start in Brussels on 2 March.