UK says intensified timetable for free trade talks agreed with EU

FILE PHOTO: A British Union Jack flag flutters outside the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said it had agreed an intensified timetable for free trade negotiations with the European Union in July as both sides try to strike an agreement by the end of the year.

“This new process will involve a mix of formal negotiating rounds and smaller group meetings, both in London and Brussels, assuming public health guidelines enable this,” the government said in a statement.

There would be talks each week between weeks starting June 29 and July 27.

Britain formally left the European Union at the end of January but little has yet changed in its relationship with the bloc due to a transition period which lasts for the rest of the year.

Talks on a comprehensive future relationship deal between Britain and the 27-nation EU have hardly progressed since February.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the chairman of European Union leaders Charles Michel and the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will hold talks on June 15 to revive stalled discussions.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; writing by Costas Pitas, editing by Andy Bruce