LONDON (AP) — The U.K.’s chief negotiator in post-Brexit trade talks called for “more realism” from the European Union before the start Tuesday of another round of discussions between the two sides.
With expectations of a breakthrough in the talks diminishing, there are concerns that they could collapse in the coming weeks. Though the U.K. left the bloc on Jan. 31, it is in a transition period that effectively sees it abide by EU rules until the end of this year. The two sides have been negotiating future trade ties over the past few months, but progress has been minimal.
David Frost, the British government’s chief negotiator, said the two sides “can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground” in the deadlocked talks and that the EU needs to show “more realism” about the U.K.’s status as an independent country. The EU side will be led by its long-time Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.
“We must make progress this week if we are to reach an agreement in time,” Frost said. “We have now been talking for six months.”
The trade discussions have made very little progress over the summer, with the two sides seemingly wide apart on several issues, notably on business regulations, the extent to which the U.K. can support certain industries and over the EU fishing fleet’s access to British waters.
Relations appeared to become further strained Monday following reports that Britain’s Conservative government was attempting to unilaterally ride roughshod over its divorce agreement with the EU that paved the way for the U.K.’s smooth departure earlier this year.