Ahead of the latest round of talks, David Frost is planning to further intensify negotiations with EU counterpart Michel Barnier amid fears the bloc is still dragging its feet. The pair will meet in Brussels tomorrow for the third time in as many weeks as part of the transformed timetable for post-Brexit talks. Discussions will take place at the European Commission’s Berlamont headquarters between Wednesday and Friday.
British negotiators are hoping to overcome their “significant differences” with the bloc in order to finally deliver a breakthrough.
Mr Frost could even table a brand-new trade proposal containing a list of “political trade-offs” needed to reach an agreement, European sources have claimed.
There is little appetite in Brussels to devise a new joint statement after previous attempts plunged Theresa May’s efforts to negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement into chaos.
The bloc will insist on an independent offer from the Government which provides a response to concessions granted by Mr Barnier on the European Court of Justice and fisheries.
David Frost and Michel Barnier resume Brexit trade talks tomorrow in Brussels
David Frost is the Prime Minister’s lead European negotiator
European sources said Britain had been reluctant to meet the Frenchman in the middle ground towards a potential “landing zone” for an agreement.
One added: “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.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “Intensified discussions with the EU are ongoing. These continue to be constructive and useful, although significant differences still remain between us on a number of important issues.
Michel Barnier heading to London last week on the Eurostar
“We remain committed to working hard to find an early understanding on the principles underlying an agreement out of the intensified process, and we look forward to the upcoming talks this week.”
After talks in London, senior EU diplomats were told by Mr Barnier the UK and EU sides had made “no progress” and become “static”.
Despite the gloom, Brussels is still confident a deal can be reached ahead of the bloc’s European Council summit in October.
Michel Barnier and David Frost at No.10 Downing Street
One source said: “There’s progress in as far as we are still talking.”
After this series of informal discussions, Mr Frost and Mr Barnier will next week lead a full negotiating round in London.
The pair have agreed to hold further talks in August and September to finalise any potential future relationship pact.
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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.