Brussels has encouraged European companies to revive their preparations for a deal-free Brexit plan, as it warns of "inevitable changes" regardless of the outcome of the trade talks with the UK.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier repeated Thursday's warning to the European Commission that after "informal" talks this week in London, there were "significant differences" between Brussels and the UK regarding a post-Brexit trade deal.
Mr. Barnier also shared a Commission document on Twitter, adding: "Regardless of the outcome, there will be inevitable changes on January 1, 2021."
In the "Preparing for Changes" communication, Member States were informed that the decisions taken by Boris Johnson's government to depart from EU rules and not to extend the transition period beyond December will result in "inevitable disruptions" next year that would hold “the risk of tightening” the pressure that companies are already facing due to the Covid 19 outbreak ”.
The Communication stressed that it is "essential that all parties" prepare for "far-reaching changes" and recommended that companies "consider reviewing their existing preparedness plans".
The document continued: "Although these were created for the risk of Britain's exit from the Union without a withdrawal agreement – a scenario that has not occurred – part of this work will still be very relevant to the changes at the end of the transition period . "
Mr Barnier crossed the channel this week to have a "useful discussion" with Prime Minister Europe Adviser David Frost as the couple tried to move UK-EU trade talks.
But he confirmed that despite his trip, there were still issues blocking a deal.
He tweeted: “This week's discussions confirm that there are still significant differences between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
"We will continue to work with patience, respect and determination."
In a briefing with journalists, the Commission used the same expression on the main differences that were shown during the last talks and said the EU is "working hard to bridge the gap between the two".
Commission spokesman Daniel Farrie added: "We are working towards an agreement."
Mr. Barnier attended a meeting on Wednesday after having dinner at number 10 on Tuesday evening.
Negotiators are believed to have focused on key fisheries issues and the level playing field to prevent the UK from undercutting the EU by lowering standards and increasing government subsidies.
Mr Frost will return the favor next week and travel to Brussels to hold further talks before formal negotiations resume in London the week after July 20.
The side talks took place after the Prime Minister informed German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Britain was ready to leave without a trade deal at the end of the year.
Mr. Johnson has relentlessly insisted that he don't let the discussions drag into the fall, arguing that British businesses and citizens need certainty until then to get there.
If the two sides fail to reach an agreement by the end of the current Brexit transition period at the end of the year, this means that the UK is leaving the internal market and the customs union without reaching an agreement on future access.