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UK, EU pledge to intensify talks on future relations

London, June 16 (IANS) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a video-conference with leaders of the European Union (EU), with both sides calling for a new momentum to reach an agreement before the end of this year when the Brexit transition period ends.

In a joint statement published on Monday after the online summit between Johnson and President of the European Council Charles Michel, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, the two sides said they noted the UK’s decision not to request any extension to the transition period, reports Xinhua news agency.

The transition period will therefore end on December 31 in line with the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, said the statement.

On June 12, the UK formally ruled out the possibility of an extended post-Brexit transition period.

However, the two sides agreed that new momentum was required.

“They supported the plans agreed by Chief Negotiators to intensify the talks in July and to create the most conducive conditions for concluding and ratifying a deal before the end of 2020,” said the statement.

“This should include, if possible, finding an early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement,” said the statement.

Ahead of Monday’s talks, Von der Leyen said the EU was ready to intensify talks, and was available 24/7.

“The Parties underlined their intention to work hard to deliver a relationship, which would work in the interests of the citizens of the Union and of the UK. They also confirmed their commitment to the full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement,” said the joint statement.

The video summit followed four rounds of negotiations between the UK and the EU during past few months, which saw little progress made on major stumbling blocks such as fisheries, governance arrangements and the so-called level playing field.

The UK formally exited the EU on January 31 but is still following the Union’s rules during the transition period until Dec. 31 to enable a permanent future trade deal to be reached.

During this period, the UK would have to pay into EU funds but have no say in laws imposed by Brussels.

–IANS

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