EUROPEAN negotiators will not press for a post-Brexit deal with the UK “at all costs”, a senior MEP has warned – as he stressed that “key disagreements” remain over finding common ground on fisheries. 

German MEP David McAllister was questioned by Holyrood’s Europe committee as MSPs examine the future relationship with the European Union. 

Mr McAllister, who has a Scottish father, told MSPs that it was an “open secret” that if the UK Government asked the EU for the Brexit transition period, which expires at the end of 2020, to be extended amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it would be accepted by Brussels. 

Mr McAllister, the chairman of the UK co-ordination group at the European Parliament added: “We will not drive for an agreement to be done at all costs.

"We are making an offer and it is up to the UK to accept if they want this offer or not. 

"If we are still at odds in the very vital issues then we need to ... we will then have to think how we continue our negotiations in the second half." 

But Mr McAllister warned that without the transition period being extended, “we only have five and a half months to get done whatever”, as “the negotiations will have to be concluded by the beginning of November” ahead of the current transition period deadline. 

The Christian Democrat MEP told MSPs that current coronavirus pandemic is hindering talks as negotiators on both sides cannot meet in person. 

He said: "Video conferences, as we are all experiencing these weeks, is the second best option, but when it comes to very sensitive issues, politically sensitive issues, what you don't have at the moment is the chief negotiators could confidentially talk to each other behind closed doors.

"This option isn't possible at the moment and this is an additional difficult point." 

READ MORE: Opposition MPs write to EU negotiator to seek Brexit talks extension

He also stressed that with coronavirus leaving nations "facing the largest challenge since the Second World War, the largest economic crisis since the 1930s", there would be "understanding" if the UK sought an extension to the transition period - which is due to expire at end of December. 

The senior MEP was quizzed over any changed to both parties finding common ground over a fisheries agreement. 

He said that “when it comes to fisheries, some key disagreements remain”, but he added that “we have a starting point”. 

He said: “I know that fisheries is a tricky issue in Scotland. All the fish you catch, you will have to sell it somewhere.” 

READ MORE: UK makes 'little progress' on Brexit talks and urges EU to change its stance on level playing field

He added that if no fisheries agreement can be ironed out by July 1, “we will continue to negotiate fisheries for the second half of this year” - but warned that some EU member states are unlikely to budge as they have personal interests in fishing quotas. 

The warning comes amid reports that the EU is willing to change its stance on fisheries in talks with the UK Government. 

READ MORE: Scotland's fishing catch falls by £26 million

Despite the fisheries stumbling block, reports have emerged from the EU of “hints of a possible reconciliation” over the issue.