Germany’s Europe minister hinted the negotiation teams would miss Boris Johnson’s deadline to deliver the outline of an agreement by the end of the month. Michael Roth said wrangling over the future relationship would only become a “major topic” in September. He added: “Unfortunately the negotiations have so far failed to make the necessary progress.
“As much as we want to conclude an agreement at the end of the year, we need to see more pragmatism and more realism on the British side.”
Talks are being continued in Brussels today to try to break the deadlock in the Brexit trade negotiations.
The Prime Minister’s lead negotiator David Frost had dinner with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier last night to look into how they can overcome their differences.
Talks have ground to a halt over the two sides’ significant differences in areas such as the regulatory level-playing field, a role for the European Court of Justice and future access to Britain’s fishing waters.
European sources claimed talks have become “static” because the British negotiators have responded to Mr Barnier’s apparent concessions.
The Frenchman has said he is willing to look at creative ways of allowing EU judges to police parts of the free-trade agreement.
During a recent round of talks in London, Mr Johnson dropped in on a Downing Street dinner meeting between Mr Frost and Mr Barnier.
The Prime Minister urged the negotiators to find an “outline” for the future relationship deal before the end of the month.
But Brussels is concerned this is an attempt to force the bloc into rewriting the Political Declaration in more favourable terms for Britain.
An EU source said: “It’d be better to start working on the legal text, but for that we need more convergence.
“There’s a point when the British are going to have to engage if they don’t want this process to sink.”
Mr Frost has told his EU counterpart he wants an “early understanding on the principles underlying an agreement”.
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Mr Barnier and Mr Frost have agreed to hold further talks in August and September to finalise any potential future relationship pact.
But the EU and UK have both stepped up their preparations for the possibility of trade negotiations breaking down without an agreement.
Brussels warned businesses there would be “inevitable disruptions” in their trade with Britain even if a deal is struck.