The European Union yesterday told Britain to make up its mind on Brexit, putting the onus back on London to unlock trade talks as the bloc's chief negotiator said an agreement was still within reach with 10 weeks to go.
A frustrated European Union and piqued Britain both exhorted each other this week to compromise to avoid a disruptive finale to the five-year Brexit drama that would add to economic pain from the coronavirus crisis.
"Time is very short and we stand ready to negotiate 24/7, on all subjects, on legal texts. The UK has a bit of a decision to make and it's their free and sovereign choice," European Council President Charles Michel told the European Parliament.
He said Britain's answer would determine its level of access to the EU's internal market of 450 million consumers, adding: "This is just common sense."
The EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told the parliament an agreement was still "within reach".
"Time is of the essence ... Along with our British counterparts, we must find solutions to the most difficult areas," Barnier said, in comments that pushed sterling higher.
London has this week refused to continue full negotiations, saying the EU must "fundamentally change" its stance.
The bloc sees this as bluff by Prime Minister Boris Johnson but has also extended an olive branch by talking up UK sovereignity, as well as the EU's openess to discuss intensively, across the board and on specific legal texts.