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UK says 'limited' progress in latest Brexit trade talks

10 June 2020, MVT 14:23
EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier gives a news conference after Brexit negotiations, in Brussels on June 5, 2020. - Britain on June 5, 2020, said there had been little movement in the latest round of post-Brexit trade talks, calling for both sides to double down and speed up negotiations to secure a deal. PHOTO: YVES HERMAN / POOL / AFP
10 June 2020, MVT 14:23

Britain on Friday said there had been little movement in the latest round of post-Brexit trade talks with the EU, calling for both sides to double down and speed up negotiations to secure a deal.

"Progress remains limited," chief negotiator David Frost said after the fourth round of remote talks ended. "If we are to make progress, it is clear that we must intensify and accelerate our work."

Britain left the European Union at the end of January but remains bound by the bloc's rules until December 31 as the two sides thrash out new terms for their relationship.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier expressed frustration at the UK approach, accusing London of backtracking on its previous commitments to member states in a political declaration signed last year.

Frost described the talks as "positive on tone" but urged a deal to be reached "in good time" to give businesses certainty about new trading terms.

Britain has repeatedly refused to extend the transition period, even as the country and the rest of Europe grapples with the coronavirus outbreak.

"For our part we are willing to work hard to see whether at least the outline of a balanced agreement, covering all issues, can be reached soon," Frost added.

Key stumbling blocks for Britain in the talks remain on the extent of EU access to UK fishing grounds and rules governing fair competition.

It argues Brussels has not recognised the country's position as an independent sovereign state, and says the bloc makes no similar demands in other trade agreements.

Pro-EU lobby group Best for Britain called EU misgivings about the state of talks "deeply concerning", with a deadline for asking for an extension looming on June 30.

The group's Naomi Smith said Prime Minister Boris Johnson should honour his commitments or risk a no-deal scenario "in the middle of the worst recession for a century".

"If we cannot support these commitments at this time due to the scale of the public health crisis at hand, then we must give ourselves more time by extending the Brexit transition period," she added.

London, United Kingdom | AFP

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