U.K. Says ‘Significant Differences’ Remain in Post-Brexit Talks

The U.K. said talks with the European Union on their post-Brexit relationship continued to make little progress as both sides stepped up preparations for their final separation at the end of the year.

“Significant differences still remain between us on a number of important issues,” a U.K. government spokesperson said after the latest round of discussions between EU negotiator Michel Barnier and Britain’s David Frost. “The U.K. remains committed to working hard to find an early understanding on the principles underlying an agreement.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a brief appearance before an informal dinner between Barnier and Frost on Tuesday and stressed his desire to reach an outline agreement in the coming weeks.

Johnson’s intervention is a sign of the U.K.’s willingness to strike an accord with its largest trading partner -- but, so far, the two sides haven’t been able to find compromises on contentious issues including access to Britain’s fishing waters and the future influence of EU courts.

Without a deal, Britain and the EU will trade on World Trade Organization terms from Jan 1, meaning tariffs and quotas will be reimposed, threatening an economic shock.

On Thursday, Barnier said little progress was being made as he published a document from the European Commission outlining the disruption businesses will face even if there is an agreement. The EU said Britain’s refusal to extend the Brexit transition period risks adding to the pressure companies already face from the coronavirus.

The EU also published technical notices on how different sectors should prepare for the end of the transition. The U.K., which is due to publish its plan for the post-Brexit border next week, said it will set out more of its own guidance for businesses shortly.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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