UK, EU resume talks on future ties, as new deadline looms

BRUSSELS (AP) — Negotiations were to resume Tuesday on the future trade ties between the European Union and the United Kingdom after Brexit, with the Europeans insisting that important differences in the two sides’ positions must be bridged and an agreement found by October.

The U.K. officially left the EU on Jan. 31, becoming the first country ever to withdraw from the world’s biggest trade bloc, but the country remains inside the EU’s tariff-free economic zone until the end of the year.

The parties disagree on state aid for businesses and on fisheries. The British government remains opposed to EU demands for long-term access to British waters. Both say they want to avoid a “no deal” scenario that would see tariffs and other restrictions imposed on trade.

Four days of talks have been scheduled this week to try to push the negotiations forward.

After a sixth round of talks last month, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned that “we must come to an agreement in October at the latest, so that our new treaty can enter into force on 1 January next year.”

“This means that we only have a few weeks left, and that we should not waste them,” he said.

Britain is seeking a free-trade pact similar to one the EU negotiated with Canada. The EU wants to ensure both sides have similar rules on a wide range of issues, including workers’ rights, the environment and government subsidies, before discussing such an agreement.

Last week, U.K. negotiator David Frost tweeted that Britain is “not looking for a special or unique agreement. We want a deal with, at its core, an FTA (free trade agreement) like those the EU has agreed with other friendly countries, like Canada.”

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