EU and UK call off face-to-face trade talks because of virus

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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – MARCH 03: The State of Europe is seen behind fencing near to the European Parliamenrt on March 03, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

LONDON (AP) – European Union negotiators will not travel to London next week for the second round of talks on a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.K. because of the new virus outbreak that has now taken hold across Europe.

In a joint statement Thursday, negotiating teams from both sides said they were looking at “alternative ways” of continuing the negotiations, including by video conferencing.

Though Britain left the political institutions of the EU on Jan. 31, it remains part of the bloc’s tariff-free single market and customs union until the end of this year. The coronavirus outbreak, though, has raised questions as to whether a wide-ranging deal can now be completed in time, given the restrictions increasingly put in place because of the outbreak.

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