UK and EU agree three negotiating rounds for post-Brexit deal

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter as uncertainty over Brexit continues, in London, Britain April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain and the European Union agreed dates for three, week-long negotiating rounds to reach a post-Brexit deal on their future relationship, a joint statement said on Wednesday, with a high-level review of progress in June.

The negotiations will take place by videoconference in the weeks beginning April 20, May 11 and June 1.

Britain is seeking a comprehensive free-trade deal with the EU, having left the bloc in January after over three years of acrimonious wrangling. It is temporarily subject to EU rules while a new permanent arrangement is worked out.

The negotiating dates were agreed at a meeting between EU negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart David Frost, which was described in the statement as “constructive”

“The two sides took stock of the technical work that has taken place since the first negotiating round on the basis of the legal texts exchanged by both sides,” the statement said.

“While this work has been useful to identify all major areas of divergence and convergence, the two sides agreed on the need to organise further negotiating rounds in order to make real, tangible progress in the negotiations by June.”

Despite the coronavirus pandemic which has hit Britain and major European states hard and disrupted negotiations, the British government insists it has no plans to extend the temporary transition arrangements beyond the current end of December deadline.

Reporting by Costas Pitas and Paul Sandle, writing by William James; editing by Stephen Addison