EU, UK warn of big differences as Brexit talks move to London

Brussels: A round of intensified Brexit talks ended on Thursday with both sides warning of remaining big differences but they committed to more negotiations next week in London.

The four days of meetings in Brussels were the first held face-to-face since the coronavirus shutdown, with hopes high that progress would be made.

"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," he added.

More hopefully, the former French minister added: "We continue to believe that an agreement is possible and in everyone’s interest."

Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost closely mirrored Barnier’s statement, warning that "significant differences" remain with the European Union.

But Frost added: "We remain committed to working hard to find an early understanding on the principles underlying an agreement."

The talks this month are being held in a more limited format than earlier rounds, in hopes that a more personal encounter can deliver a breakthrough.

Signalling a willingness not to disrupt the talks, Barnier and Frost coordinated the release of their statements and no meetings with the journalists were planned by either side.

Britain left the EU on January 30 and a post-Brexit transition period during which it still benefits from de facto EU membership comes to an end on December 31. - AFP