Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s president, insisted “time is short” but promised to “sign a one of a kind partnership with the United Kingdom”. The German added: “For this we have to bridge wide divergences, which remain to be solved.” She said UK and EU negotiators had made little headway on the fundamental issues of fisheries, the so-called “level-playing field” and governance.
“These are important points for the European Union because these are principles of fair competition, rising social standards, protecting our citizens and the rule of law are at the heart of the EU.”
Her intervention comes after holding high-level talks with Mr Johnson on Monday.
European Council President Charles Michel, who also attended the discussion, said he took note of the UK’s refusal to extend the transition period
After debriefing EU27 leaders on the talks, Mr Michel said: “We repeated the mandate that we have decided at the European level, we repeated that we are committed in order to reach an agreement but not at any cost.
“We consider, for example the questions, like the level playing field, like the governance, like, also the protocol regarding Ireland and Northern Ireland, very essential topics in our opinion.
“We took note that for the UK, they don’t have the intention to ask an extension of the transition period.”
Negotiators will return for intensified talks at the end of the month with the aim of securing a political agreement that paves the way towards a future relationship pact.
David Frost, the Prime Minister’s chief trade negotiator with Brussels, and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier will be able to hold face-to-face talks for the first time in over three months.
France today echoed Mr Michel’s warning that the bloc would not agree to a deal with Britain at any cost.
Emmanuel Macron’s Europe minister said the country would not allow Mr Johnson’s bid to seal a trade deal before the end of the year compromise the EU’s position.
Amelie de Montchalin said: “We will not give in to this pressure of the calendar, to this final sprint that the British want to impose on us, hoping that we will yield.”
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The Prime Minister said that it did not “make sense” for negotiations to be delayed.
And Mr Macron said that he wanted to reach an agreement.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “On UK-EU negotiations, the prime minister welcomed the agreement to intensify talks in July and underlined that the UK does not believe it makes sense for there to be prolonged negotiations.”