July 2 (UPI) — Post-Brexit trade talks between Britain and the European Union broke down on Thursday after what one negotiator said was a lack of engagement and respect.
Both sides began the first round of trade and security negotiations this week, their first since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — but each left the talks Thursday acknowledging “significant differences.”
Britain and the EU must come to agreements for how they will interact now that London is no longer part of the group. Britain officially exited the EU at the end of January. Until there’s a new deal, Britain is operating by the same trade rules it followed as an EU member state.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the alliance has been flexible with British demands, but accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of not reciprocating the same.
“Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement,” he said. “However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.”
British EU adviser David Frost called the talks “comprehensive and useful,” but agreed that differences “still remain between us on a number of important issues.”
“[We are] committed to working hard to find an early understanding on the principles underlying an agreement,” Frost said.
Barnier stressed that Britain must show some give in their positions, as he believes the bloc has done.
“The EU expects, in turn, its positions to be better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement,” Barnier said. “We need an equivalent engagement.”
Talks are scheduled to resume in London in the coming days.
If the two sides cannot reach a deal, Britain will most likely trade with the European Union under less-favorable guidelines outlined by the World Trade Organization when the transition period expires on Dec. 31.