Brexit: EU leaders call for UK trade talks to continue

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image copyrightEPA

image captionCzech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is among 27 EU leaders meeting at the Brussels summit.

EU leaders have called for post-Brexit trade talks to continue beyond the end of the week – the deadline suggested by Boris Johnson.

At a two-day summit in Brussels beginning on Thursday, they said progress in key areas was “not sufficient” to reach a deal.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said fresh “intensive” talks should aim to reach a deal around the end of October.

But his UK counterpart said he was “disappointed” by the EU’s approach.

In a tweet, David Frost said he was “surprised” the EU “is no longer committed to working ‘intensively’ to reach a future partnership”.

He said the EU was expecting “all future moves” toward a deal to come from the UK, which he called an “unusual approach to conducting a negotiation”.

He added the prime minister would set out his “approach” to the future of the talks on Friday.

Both sides are calling on each other to compromise on key issues, including fishing and limits on government subsidies to businesses.

They are seeking an agreement to govern their trading relationship once the UK’s post-Brexit transition period ends in December.

As the summit got under way, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she would be self-isolating for the second time in a month after a member of her staff tested positive for Covid-19.

In a tweet, she added she had tested negative herself but would be leaving the summit “as a precaution”.

In a conclusions document issued after a discussion on Brexit, the EU expressed “concern” that not enough progress has been made in key areas for a deal to be reached.

They urged the UK to make the “necessary moves” towards striking an agreement.

image copyrightReuters

image captionMrs von der Leyen (R) left the summit early after exchanging views with EU leaders.

Arriving at the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said his country’s fishermen would not “in any situation” be “sacrificed to Brexit”.

“We didn’t choose Brexit. Preserving access for our fishermen to British waters is an important point for us,” he told reporters.

Covid ‘motivating factor’

The Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Micheál Martin said a deal was still possible “within the timeframe available to us”.

He told the BBC a no-deal outcome would represent a “significant additional shock to our societies” on top of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“That is a motivating factor in seeking to arrive at a comprehensive deal,” he added.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “”It would be crazy for the outside world if the UK and the EU will not be able to come to an agreement”.

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