Ursula von der Leyen on UK negotiations (3:47)
By Mark Johnston
"These are decisive days for our negotiations with the United Kingdom. But I cannot tell you today, if in the end there will be a deal. There has been genuine progress on a number of important questions: on law enforcement and judicial cooperation; on social security coordination. And also on goods, services and transport we now have the outline of a possible final text. In these areas there are still some important issues to agree, but they should be manageable.
"However, there are still three issues that can make the difference between a deal and no deal. The crucial topics for the European side are of course questions linked to the level playing field, governance and fisheries. With very little time ahead of us, we will do all in our power to reach an agreement. We are ready to be creative.
But we are not ready to put into question the integrity of our Single Market - the main safeguard for European prosperity and wealth. This is why we need to establish robust mechanisms, ensuring that competition is - and remains - free and fair over time.
In the discussions about state aid we have still serious issues, for instance when it comes to enforcement. Significant difficulties remain on the question how we can secure - now and over time - our common high standards on labour and social rights, the environment, climate change and tax transparency.
We want to know what remedies are available, in case one side will deviate in the future. Because trust is good, but law is better. And crucial in light of recent experience: a strong governance system is essential to ensure that what has been agreed is actually done.
"Concerning fisheries: No one questions the UK´s sovereignty on its own waters. But we ask for predictability and guarantees for our fishermen and women, who have been sailing in these waters for decades, if not centuries.
"The next days are going to be decisive. The European Union is well prepared for a no-deal-scenario, but of course we prefer to have an agreement. I fully trust in the skillful steer of our Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier. But one thing is clear: Whatever the outcome, there has to be - and there will be - a clear difference between being a full member of the Union and being just a valued partner.
"I am fully aware of the challenges the current situation is creating especially for this Parliament and the ratification procedure. This is why I want to sincerely thank you for your support and understanding. As in the past, we will walk those last miles together."