Nov. 30 (UPI) -- British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Sunday that Brexit talks between the country and the European Union are in their "last week or so," but "substantive" issues remain that could scuttle a trade deal.
Britain and the EU need to have a deal in place by year's end to prevent possible tariffs, trade confusion and complications at the border, particularly between Ireland and Northern Ireland where there is strong concern about a physical barrier there.
The two sides continue to struggle with issues over fishing, competition policy and governance of any future deal. The problems include how much access European fishing crews should have to British waters, along with market competition rules that govern Britain and the EU's single market.
Raab said the EU should accept a "point of principle" on fishing, which is admitted remains a major snag in reaching a deal.
"We can talk about transitions and things like that and we recognize the impact it has on other countries around Europe," Raab said Sunday. "But that principle comes with sovereignty, comes with leaving not just the EU but the transition period. I think the answer is, can the EU accept that point of principle that comes with us leaving the political club?"
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week the alliance was in the "decisive days" of Brexit negotiations and hoped a deal would still be worked out before the looming deadline.
"There has been genuine progress on a number of important questions: on law enforcement and judicial cooperation; on social security coordination," she said.
"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."