Barnier: EU ‘calm and united’ as post-Brexit trade talks with UK resume

Negotiators from the UK and the European Union (EU) met in person to make progress on a post-Brexit trade deal.

Teams led by Prime Minister David Frost's European Adviser and President Michel Barnier of the EU held talks in Brussels for the first time since the Coronavirus crisis.

Mr. Barnier said they would "make the most of the intensified process over the coming weeks and months."

He said the EU "remains calm and united in its principles and values".

One of the main stumbling blocks in the talks is the “level playing field,” which is designed to prevent the UK from lowering standards for workers' rights, environmental protection and government subsidies.

The British side has claimed that the proposed measures would bind them to the Brussels rules despite their exit from the EU.

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<figcaption>Brexit negotiator David Frost (left) and the British Ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow (John Thys / Pool / AP)</figcaption></figure>
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<p>The meeting, which took place at the conference table due to social distancing measures, took place one day after the announcement that Mr. Frost would replace Sir Mark Sedwill as national security advisor alongside his responsibility for Europe.</p>
<p>Downing Street said a post-Brexit deal should be largely completed when he takes on the new role in late August.</p>
<p>Boris Johnson has previously stated that he wants the UK-EU talks to result in an agreement by the end of July, although both sides have recognized that an agreement must be signed in late October to be ratified this year.</p>
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<figcaption>EU negotiator Michel Barnier and British Brexit negotiator David Frost take part in a meeting with their delegations at EU headquarters in Brussels (John Thys / Pool / AP).</figcaption></figure>
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<p>The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We have made it clear on several occasions that these talks should not drag and that we want and need to be completed by autumn."</p>
<p>The current transition period expires at the end of the year, which means that new rules will have to be in place by January 1st, or the UK will follow the World Trade Organization rules for its relations with the EU.</p>
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European Commission spokesman Daniel Ferrie said: "Our general message this week, but also for the coming weeks and months, is to step up our negotiations to make progress and get a deal."

Mr. Ferrie said he had "no specific comments to make" that Mr. Frost would be given a second job while negotiations continued.

He added: "At least on our part, we are fully focused on the negotiations."

Before the last round of talks, Frost said that the EU's "unrealistic positions" must change if progress is to be made.

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