Nov. 25 (UPI) -- European Union leader Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday the alliance is in the "decisive days" of Brexit negotiations and hopes a deal is still in the offing, with a little more than a month before the transition deadline.
The negotiations, which paused after chief negotiator Michel Barnier tested positive for COVID-19, will start up again when he emerges from quarantine on Friday. He's expected to travel to London to meet with British negotiators.
Negotiators on both sides have been talking on and off for months since Britain left the EU in January, but they remain deadlocked on multiple trade issues with only a few weeks left before the transition period ends on Dec. 31.
Although the deadline is five weeks away, any proposal would need to be finalized soon to make it through the vetting process in time.
"These are decisive days for negotiations," Von der Leyen told European Parliament Wednesday. "But, frankly, 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."
The European Parliament has left room for a special session on Dec. 28, when they could vote on a possible deal.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday that Britain must maintain its agreement to keep the Irish border free of checkpoints, which has so far been one of the largest obstacles to an exit agreement.
"We do not want a guarded border," Biden said. "The idea of having the border, north and south, once again being closed. We've just got to keep the border open."