Brexit: Latest EU-UK trade talks end early as 'significant differences' remain

The latest round of Brexit negotiations - the first face-to-face talks since the coronavirus lockdown began - have broken up early with "significant differences" remaining between the UK and EU.

Image:UK chief negotiator David Frost (centre) admitted 'significant differences' remain between the two sides

This week's talks between UK and EU officials on a future trade deal had been due to continue until Friday.

However, after four days, the latest discussions have ended with both sides admitting they continue to disagree on a number of issues.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier also called for more respect from UK officials.

David Frost, the prime minister's EU adviser and the UK's chief negotiator, described the talks - held in Brussels - as "comprehensive and useful", and said the meetings had "given extra depth and flexibility to our discussions".

But he added this week's negotiations "also underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues".

Mr Frost - the controversial choice to be Boris Johnson's new national security adviser - said his negotiating team "remain committed to working hard to find an early understanding on the principles underlying an agreement".

This week's talks were also the first since a 15 June meeting between Mr Johnson, European Council president Charles Michel and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The trio agreed to intensify stalling negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship.

Mr Barnier said his team "engaged constructively in this week's restricted round of negotiations, in line with our mandate".

He admitted "serious divergences remain" after the four days of talks, as he repeated the EU's demand for "level playing field" commitments from the UK and a "balanced, sustainable and long-term solution" for the bloc's fisheries.

The EU chief negotiator said the bloc had "listened carefully" to Mr Johnson in recent weeks, including his call for a trade agreement to be reached quickly.

He added: "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."

But Mr Barnier stressed the EU continues to "believe that an agreement is possible and in everyone's interest".

Source: Sky News