The European Union and the United Kingdom have kicked off a fourth round of talks on a post-Brexit trade deal and other aspects of their future relations.
The four-day negotiations by video conference began on Tuesday with officials trying to make headway after the last three rounds yielded little progress.
The UK formally left the bloc on January 31 after a slim majority voted for Brexit in a 2016 referendum. Little has changed in practice during a planned 11-month transition period.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised not to extend this period, despite a lack of progress in talks that have been overshadowed by the coronavirus crisis.
The end of June is the deadline for the UK to ask for more time for talks, and both sides are due to take stock of the progress so far.
Johnson suggested the country would accept a “no-deal” Brexit if London and Brussels cannot agree on new trade rules by December 31.
Meanwhile, calls from British opposition politicians to request an extension are growing louder. London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Monday urged the government to “put political ideology aside”.
Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit negotiator, told the Sunday Times the UK had failed to meet its commitments to the negotiations on future trade and other arrangements.
London had taken “a step back – two steps back, three steps back – from the original commitments,” he said.
The British side rejected these accusations and charged the EU with wanting to keep it bound by the bloc’s EU rules in future.