French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said that he was “not sure” it would be possible for the European Union and Britain to reach a trade deal by the end of the year.

Britain and the EU are about to embark on negotiations aiming to hammer out a trade agreement by the time the post-Brexit transition period shuts at the end of December.

But France has made clear it thinks the negotiations will be particularly difficult, especially in such a tight timeframe.

During a meeting with fishermen, who are concerned for their livelihoods after Brexit, at an agricultural trade event in Paris, President Macron said, “I am not sure that an agreement will be reached between now and the end of the year”.

According to the French officials, the UK exports the bulk of its catch to Europe, indicating that British fishermen have plenty to lose if the two sides fail to reach a deal

Earlier in the month, Macron paid his first visit to Poland in a bid to mend ties strained over Warsaw’s controversial judicial reforms and its position on EU climate goals.

In 2018, President Macron himself accused Poland’s PiS government and Hungary’s populist Premier Viktor Orban of “lying to their people” about the European Union’s powers to interfere in domestic affairs.

The Green Deal is the EU’s new one-trillion-euro (USD 1.1-trillion) plan to finance its goal of making the bloc carbon neutral by 2050.

The UK formally left the EU on January 31 and is now in a pre-agreed period of transition during which it is free to open up trade talks with countries around the world.