Stalemate after fourth round of post-Brexit talks

World 2020/6/5

Stalemate after fourth round of post-Brexit talks

Brussels (AFP) - The latest round of Brexit trade talks ended with no breakthrough Friday, as the EU and Britain stuck to long-held positions and called for negotiations to be ramped up.

The EU´s chief negotiator Michel Barnier could report "no significant progress this week", accusing London of backtracking on divorce terms agreed last year.

"This situation cannot go on forever," Barnier told reporters after hundreds of officials completed four days of virtual talks on forging future EU-UK ties.

The former French minister added that any agreement must be reached before October 31 in order for it to be ratified before the end of the year.

This is when Britain will leave the EU´s single market and customs union with or without a trade deal.

Barnier´s UK counterpart David Frost noted "limited" advances and asked that both sides "intensify and accelerate our work" in order to clinch the deal.

Barnier said the next round of talks would take place in late June or early July as officials talked of a busy summer ahead for negotiations.

"I have no doubt that we will find common ground over the course of the summer and by early autumn at the latest," Barnier added.

- Planned summit -

At times frustrated, Barnier said British negotiators were seeking to backtrack on commitments already made when Britain´s Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a political declaration with EU members last year.

Barnier said this declaration -- legally a non-binding annex to the Brexit withdrawal agreement -- could be the "only reference" for the talks.

Expectations among Brexit-watchers were very low for this round of talks, and most in Brussels believe a breakthrough is not likely before the autumn.

On key issues like a level-playing field rules for business, fishing rights and an overarching framework for the accord, "the British are no lo

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