EU, UK to resume free-trade talks

BELGIUM-EU-POLITICS-SUMMIT

Downing Street has said it will return to face the European Union at the table in Brexit trade negotiations on Thursday, with both sides promising concessions after talks broke down last week.

The statement further said EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had "acknowledged" the United Kingdom government's concerns in remarks to the European Parliament earlier on Wednesday.

Following Barnier's address on Wednesday, the United Kingdom government said it had "studied [his remarks] carefully" and welcomed his position on UK's sovereignty.

He added, "Despite the difficulties we've faced an agreement is within reach".

UK Ministers welcomed Mr Barnier's recognition of UK sovereignty, as the pound jumped to a one week high against the U.S. dollar.

Downing Street said the UK's position had been set out by Johnson and Michael Gove, who had been clear the European Union had to be serious about talking intensively, on all issues, and bringing the negotiation to a conclusion, as well as accepting that it was dealing with an "independent and sovereign country".

The statement also said the United Kingdom government still wanted a deal for when a post-Brexit transition period ends on December 31, but hinted it would walk away from the negotiations.

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As both sides have made clear, it takes two to reach an agreement. "It will remain open right up until the last day when we can work together".

The negotiations had been in limbo after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's previous deadline for a deal passed last week. It was not immediately clear if the speech was enough for Britain to return to trade negotiations.

The EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier made conciliatory signals to his United Kingdom counterpart David Frost as the deadline for a deal looms.

We welcome the fact that Mr Barnier acknowledged both points this morning, and additionally that movement would be needed from both sides in the talks if agreement was to be reached.

"It sounds incredibly positive that he's talking about the sovereignty of the United Kingdom", UK Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Bloomberg television.

One senior UK Government source said yesterday ministers were "hoping to hear more from the EU" before the end of this week.

The Telegraph exclusively reported on Tuesday that Mr Barnier could be in London for negotiations as early as Thursday. A second source said Mr Barnier could be in London on Thursday.

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