Europe

No breakthrough in latest round of Brexit talks, says EU official

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The latest negotiating round between Britain and the European Union on future ties after a post-Brexit transition period runs out at the end of 2020 brought no breakthroughs this week on the key sticking points, an EU official said on Friday.

“Nothing has moved. (There were) some technical exchanges that weren’t entirely pointless but nothing noteworthy on the topics that matter,” said the official, who is involved in the talks and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Last March, Britain became the first country ever to leave the EU – after 46 years of membership – and the two are now negotiating a new partnership from 2021 on everything from trade and transport to energy and security.

Persistent disagreements over state aid rules and fishing quotas have so far thwarted a deal, which the EU says must be in the making in time for approval at an Oct. 15-16 summit of the bloc’s 27 national leaders to enable ratification this year.

Beyond the biggest stumbling blocks, differences also linger in discussions on migration, security, dispute-settling mechanisms, human rights guarantees and other areas.

The EU and British lead negotiators – Michel Barnier and David Frost, respectively – are due to give news readouts of their seventh round of talks from 0900 GMT.

Despite time being short, the EU side has been relatively upbeat in recent weeks that an agreement can be reached with the coronavirus pandemic bringing economic havoc and both sides of the English Channel wanting to avoid an even deeper recession.

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