Britain will resume talks with the European Union on Thursday, marking a new push by the two sides to protect billions of dollars worth of trade from the beginning of next year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson walked away from the negotiations late last week after British officials criticized conclusions from an EU summit which they said suggested only London should compromise to try to secure a new trade deal.
With just 10 weeks until a status quo Brexit transition period is due to end, both sides have traded blame and called on each other to offer more concessions in the talks, which have been all but deadlocked since the summer.
But while markets welcomed the resumption, it is unclear whether the two sides can bridge gaps on fair competition guarantees -- especially state aid rules -- and fisheries, a sector laden with symbolism for Brexit supporters in Britain.
A spokeswoman for Johnson’s Downing Street office said Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost had spoken to EU counterpart Michel Barnier and welcomed his comments from earlier in the day.
“On the basis of that conversation we are ready to welcome the EU team to London to resume negotiations later this week. We have jointly agreed a set of principles for handling this intensified phase of talks,” the spokeswoman said.
“It is clear that significant gaps remain between our positions in the most difficult areas, but we are ready, with the EU, to see if it is possible to bridge them in intensive talks,” she said in a statement.
The British side was keen to play up that “as both sides have made clear, it takes two to reach an agreement”. The initial phase of negotiations will take place in London from Oct. 22 until Oct. 25, with talks after that taking place by agreement.
Earlier, European Council President Charles Michel told the European Parliament that time was very short. “We stand ready to negotiate 24/7, on all subjects, on legal texts. The UK has a bit of a decision to make and it’s their free and sovereign choice,” Michel said.