Britain and the European Union (EU) closed their fourth round of trade talks on Friday with little progress made, their chief negotiators said.
“Progress remains limited but our talks have been positive in tone. Negotiations will continue and we remain committed to a successful outcome,” Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost said in London after the talks via video links.
“We are close to reaching the limits of what we can achieve through the format of remote formal rounds. If we are to make progress, it is clear that we must intensify and accelerate our work,” he said.
“We need to conclude this negotiation in good time to enable people and businesses to have certainty about the trading terms that will follow the end of the transition period at the end of this year, and, if necessary, to allow ratification of any agreements reached,” he added.
“Any such deal must of course accommodate the reality of the UK‘s well-established position on the so-called ‘level playing field’, on fisheries, and the other difficult issues,” he added.
Also on Friday, Michel Barnier, the EU‘s chief negotiator on Britain‘s exit from the EU, said in Brussels that there have been no significant areas of progress after the end of the fourth round of talks with Britain on their post-Brexit relations.
The EU has always been open to the possibility of an extension to the transition period, he said.
After this final scheduled round of talks now between the two sides, the focus will switch to a crucial meeting reportedly to take place later this month between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
Johnson has insisted he will not extend the transition period beyond Dec. 31, with Britain and the EU facing the prospect of conducting trade under World Trade Organization rules if there is no agreement.
Britain has insisted that it wants a Canada-style relationship based on a comprehensive free trade agreement, supplemented by separate international agreements.