The two sides were left at loggerheads over future agreements of fisheries and the regulatory level playing field. After three rounds of trade talks, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, conceded “no progress has been possible” in recent weeks. The Frenchman once again accused David Frost, Boris Johnson’s lead negotiator, of refusing to enter into a discussion over the bloc’s regulatory demands.
Mr Barnier told reporters: “In a closed meeting with David Frost and all of the UK negotiators, I said that the round that we’ve just had was very disappointing.”
He said the bloc was “preparing for all options” as the chances of a new no-deal cliff edge dramatically increased.
“I’m not optimistic,” the Brussels bureaucrat added.
“I’m still determined but I’m not optimistic.”
Senior EU officials fear a deal is no longer possible with British negotiators refusing to compromise.
Mr Barnier claimed the Government doesn’t fully understand consequences of its Brexit decision.
He blast: “It seems to be a real lack of understanding regarding the objective, mechanical consequences of the British choice to leave the single market and customs union.”
The Frenchman’s rant comes after Brussels refused to acknowledge a series of plans set out by British negotiators to break the deadlock.
The bloc disregarded UK plans on the so-called level playing field and mutual recognition of standards.
UK officials said they encountered similar problems with their EU counterparts being stubborn as in previous rounds of negotiations.
A source close to the talks said: “The difficultly we’ve faced in this round, as in the previous ones, is the difference in principle on some fairly fundamental aspects of the process.
“The EU have been pretty clear they can’t engage in purposeful discussions in any subject until, as they put it, make progress in that direction on fisheries and the so-called level playing field.
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Mr Frost hopes this will inject urgency into the discussions and allow Brussels to finally compromise.
He said: “It is hard to understand why the EU insists on an ideological approach which makes it more difficult to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
“We very much need a change in EU approach for the next Round beginning on June 1. In order to facilitate those discussions, we intend to make public all the UK draft legal texts during next week so that the EU’s Member States and interested observers can see our approach in detail.
“The UK will continue to work hard to find an agreement, for as long as there is a constructive process in being, and continues to believe that this is possible.”