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‘Serious divergences’ remain after latest round of Brexit talks ends early

Published: (Updated: ) in European News by .

Michel Barnier says EU engaged constructively, but ‘we need an equivalent engagement by the United Kingdom.’

Big differences remain between the EU and the U.K. after this week’s round of negotiations, both sides said Thursday.

The EU and the U.K. had launched a set of new negotiating rounds of “intensified” talks on a restricted number of sensitive issues, in the hopes of clinching a deal in the coming weeks or months. It was also the first time since the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdowns that both sides had met physically.

However, talks seem to have ended earlier than expected, with both sides still poles apart. “Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement,” EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in a statement. “However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.”

There was a further meeting planned this Friday between Barnier and his U.K. counterpart David Frost to take stock after this week’s negotiations, but this has been canceled, a Commission official told POLITICO. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman told journalists in Westminster: “This round of talks has ended early. They covered all the ground they set out to discuss.”

Barnier insisted the EU had engaged constructively, but that it expects “its positions to better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement. We need an equivalent engagement by the United Kingdom.”

Frost said the negotiations have “underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues.”

Both sides will continue the talks in London next week, and have insisted they remain committed to finding a deal on the future relationship between the EU and the U.K.

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This article has been updated to include a response from a European Commission official.

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