07:38 GMT22 October 2020
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    BERLIN (Sputnik) - The coronavirus pandemic has complicated the post-Brexit trade negotiations with the United Kingdom, however, the European Union is still aiming to reach a deal, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.

    "A lot happened last year, but today there is even more at stake than it was a year ago. The coronavirus pandemic has made negotiations even more difficult, from any point of view. But it has made the agreement even more urgent," Maas said after a meeting with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

    According to the top German diplomat, the EU is negotiating post-Brexit terms with a strong will to reach a deal, with Barnier's help.

    The European community advocates "a close and ambitious partnership with the UK, which remains our goal," Maas noted.

    The United Kingdom left the EU on January 31 but remains under the current EU trade terms. If no trade deal is secured before the so-called transition period expires on December 31, the World Trade Organisation's rules for both parties will come into effect starting 2021, including customs tariffs and full border checks for UK goods entering the European Union.

    As for the COVID-19 epidemic, in March, the EU nations closed borders with each other to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within Europe's visa-free Schengen area. It led to the collapse of travel traffic and deepened the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

    Tags:
    Heiko Maas, coronavirus, COVID-19, deal, post-Brexit, EU
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