David Frost has confirmed “significant differences” remain between the UK and the EU after three days of intense discussions fizzled out during the fourth round of negotiations. Following the first face-to-face encounter since the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Barnier reiterated there would be no deal unless the UK accepted Brussels’ demands for a “level playing-field” on trade and access to British fishing waters.
Mr Frost stated the personal meeting had provided “extra depth and flexibility” to talks but insisted outstanding issued remained.
In a statement, Britain’s Brexit negotiator said: “We have completed our discussion of the full range of issues in the negotiation in just over three days.
“Our talks were face to face for the first time since March and this has given extra depth and flexibility to our discussions.
“The negotiations have been comprehensive and useful.
David Frost has warned differences remain to find a trade deal with the EU
David Frost and Michel Barnier ended talks a day early
“But they have also underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues.”
The official deadline for an extension to the transition period officially expired on Tuesday.
Despite the lack of progress, Mr Frost has insisted the UK will still look to strike an agreement before the December 31 deadline.
The next round of talks will take place in London next week.
Brexit talks will resume in London next week
Mr Frost added: “We remain committed to working hard to find an early understanding on the principles underlying an agreement out of the intensified talks process during July.
“Talks will continue next week in London as agreed in the revised terms of reference published on 12 June.”
Following the discussions, Mr Barnier firmly pointed the blame towards the UK for the lack of progress.
The French europhile insisted the EU had engaged “constructively” and added officials needed to see an “equivalent engagement from the UK side”.
Michel Barnier has called on the UK to respect the position of the EU
He said: “Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement.
“However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.”
The EU Head of Taskforce added Brussels had “listened carefully” to British concerns, but insisted the EU would not shift on its red lines on a so-called level playing field and access to the UK’s fishing territories.
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The 27 EU member states have given Mr Barnier a mandate to ensure a level playing field on trade – amid fears the UK leaving the single market and customs union could undercut the bloc in any future deals with nations around the world.
Mr Barnier said: “We will continue to insist on parallel progress on all areas.
“The EU expects, in turn, its positions to be better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement.
“We need an equivalent engagement by the United Kingdom.”