Von der Leyen, Johnson say ‘serious gaps’ remain in Brexit talks

(Update 1: Adds statement from Johnson and von der Leyen, updates headline, re-ledes)

Brussels/London, Oct 3 (EFE).- European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and the United Kingdom’s prime minister Boris Johnson on Saturday said “significant gaps” remained in the Brexit negotiations.

The pair held a video call to discuss Brexit after the latest round of negotiations failed to bridge divergences.

“They agreed on the importance of finding an agreement, if at all possible, as a strong basis for a strategic EU-UK relationship in future,” a joint statement released after the meeting said.

They added that some progress had been made and there were ongoing rifts in the areas of  “fisheries, the level playing field, and governance.”

The statement said Johnson and von der Leyen would call on their chief negotiators Sir David Frost and Michel Barnier “to work intensively in order to try to bridge those gaps.”

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph newspaper before the meeting, Johnson insisted he was optimistic about an agreement if everyone used “common sense and looks at the deal that is there to be done.”

The European Union has said it wants a post-Brexit trade deal to be agreed by the end of October to ensure there is enough time to approve it before the transition period terminates at the end of the year.

There are still rifts on the topics of fisheries policies and state-aid rules, with Brussels insisting that the UK must agree to establish a level-playing field on trade.

The latest round of talks concluded in Brussels on Friday without an agreement and the EU’s chief negotiator Barnier said there were “persistent serious divergences.”

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