‘Considerable gaps remain in the most difficult areas’ following Round 5 of UK-EU negotiations, the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost has said.
The UK has been negotiating it’s future relationship with the European Union since it formally left the bloc on January 31 this year.
This week, formal talks were held in London as talks have been intensified in search of a deal. In a statement on Thursday, Mr Frost said the EU has “listened to the UK on some of the issues most important to us, notably on the role of the Court of Justice”.
Mr Frost added that there had been “constructive discussions” on topics including trade in goods and services and transport.
However, Mr Frost said that gaps remain on areas including “the so-called level playing field and on fisheries” – issues which have been both important and key sticking points throughout negotiations.
“We have always been clear that our principles in these areas are not simple negotiating positions but expressions of the reality that we will be a fully independent country at the end of the transition period.
“That is why we continue to look for a deal with, at its core, a free trade agreement similar to the one the EU already has with Canada – that is, an agreement based on existing precedents. We remain unclear why this is so difficult for the EU, but we will continue to negotiate with this in mind.”
Informal discussions are to continue in London next week, while the next round of negotiations is scheduled for the week beginning 17 August. Frost said “Although we will continue energetically to seek an agreement with the EU, we must face the possibility that one will not be reached, and we must therefore continue preparing for all possible scenarios for the end of the transition period at the end of this year.”
He did though said that his assessment was that an agreement could still be reached in September.
If an agreement is not reached, the UK will face a no-deal scenario as the transition period ends on December 31 this year – the exact consequences of which are uncertain and feared by some businesses.