There are still “serious divergences” between the UK and the EU over Brexit, the EU’s chief negotiator said on Thursday.
Michel Barnier warned that the EU expected “to be better understood and respected” by the UK if a Brexit agreement was to be struck between the two sides.
The statement from the bloc’s negotiator follows the latest round of trade talks with his UK counterpart, David Frost.
Both sides had been hoping to break the deadlock that has stymied discussions so far.
“Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement. However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain,” Barnier said.
This week also marked the beginning of five weeks of “intensified” talks with the bloc.
Little progress had been made in the previous five rounds of trade negotiations.
Prime minister Boris Johnson and his EU counterpart Ursula von der Leyen held a high-level meeting in June, aimed at establishing common ground to break the deadlock.
Barnier said on Thursday that, following that meeting, the EU “sought to inject new dynamics in the talks.”
“The EU side had listened carefully to UK prime minister Boris Johnson's statements in recent weeks, in particular, his request to reach a political agreement quickly, and his red lines,” he said.
“The EU engaged constructively, as we had already done during the fourth round of negotiations in June.”
But Barnier warned that the EU will continue to insist on “parallel progress” during the talks, and said it needed “equivalent engagement” from the United Kingdom.
Frost said on Twitter ahead of the talks that he hoped to “make genuine and rapid progress towards an agreement”.
3/6 These meetings will be smaller and focused on seeing whether we can begin to make genuine and rapid progress towards an agreement. We will go to Brussels in good faith to engage with the EU’s concerns.— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) June 25, 2020
However, he cautioned that UK sovereignty over its laws, courts, and fishing waters was “not up for discussion.”
Both sides have only until the end of December 2020 to agree a trade deal, a timetable experts say is almost unheard of.
Tuesday marked the deadline for the agreement of any extension to the negotiating timetable, meaning that, unless a deal is agreed, the UK will crash out of the transition period without a trade accord.