UPDATES WITH MORE INFORMATION
LONDON (AA) - Boosting the chances of a trade deal with the EU, Britain will drop articles of an internal market bill which contradict the UK Withdrawal Agreement, the British government announced on Tuesday.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said "agreement in principle" on all issues in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee was reached following a meeting with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic.
Gove's announcement, supported by a joint statement later, does not mean an overdue UK-EU trade deal is reached yet, but is a positive development in terms of agreeing on one.
"Following intensive and constructive work over the past weeks by the EU and the UK, the two co-chairs can now announce their agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland," a joint EU-UK statement announcing the agreement said.
"An agreement in principle has been found in the following areas, amongst others: Border Control Posts/Entry Points specifically for checks on animals, plants and derived products, export declarations, the supply of medicines, the supply of chilled meats, and other food products to supermarkets, and a clarification on the application of State aid under the terms of the Protocol."
The articles, related to rules to be followed in Northern Ireland, have been viewed as contradictory to the withdrawal agreement – an international agreement signed by the UK and the EU after long negotiations.
The announcement came hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that talks between the UK and the EU were "looking very, very difficult at the moment" ahead of his meeting with EU leaders later this week.
Johnson's visit to Brussels is seen as a last-minute effort to reach a post-Brexit trade deal between the sides before the transition period expires on Dec. 31.
The conditions are not yet present for the UK and the EU to finalize a post-Brexit deal, a joint statement by the two sides said Monday.
The statement from EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Johnson came after a phone call between them.
The main disagreements are over how much of the EU rules the UK will follow after the transition period, how any deal will be enforced and disputes resolved, as well as fishing rights in UK waters.
The trade deal needs to be finalized and ratified should it be agreed upon before the transition period ends to avoid chaos for businesses.
The UK left the EU at the end of January but a transition period to allow the parties to work on a trade deal kicked in until the end of the year.