Negotiators from the UK and European Union (EU) have met face to face in an effort to make progress on a post-Brexit trade deal.

Teams led by the UK Prime Minister’s Europe adviser, David Frost, and the EU’s Michel Barnier held talks in Brussels for the first time since the coronavirus crisis forced them to be held remotely.

Mr Barnier said they would “make the most” of the intensified process over the coming weeks and months.

He said the EU remains “calm and united in its principles and values”.

Key stumbling blocks in the talks include the “level playing field”, aimed at preventing the UK lowering standards on workers’ rights, environmental protection and state subsidies.

The UK side has claimed the proposed measures would leave it tied to Brussels’ rules despite leaving the EU.

Brexit negotiator David Frost, left, and Britain’s Ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow

The meeting – held with participants spaced around the conference table due to social distancing measure – came a day after it was announced that Mr Frost would replace Mark Sedwill as national security adviser alongside his responsibilities on Europe.

The British Government indicated that it wanted a post-Brexit deal largely concluded by the time he takes up the new role at the end of August.

Boris Johnson has previously said he wants the UK-EU talks to result in a deal by the end of July, although both sides have acknowledged that the end of October is when an agreement needs to be concluded in order to ratify it this year.

The UK Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have been clear on a number of occasions that these talks shouldn’t drag and that we want and need them to concluded by the autumn.”

The current transition period expires at the end of the year, meaning new arrangements will need to be in place by January 1 or the UK will follow World Trade Organisation rules for its relationship with the EU.

The meeting – held with participants spaced around the conference table due to social distancing measure – came a day after it was announced that Mr Frost would replace Mark Sedwill as national security adviser alongside his responsibilities on Europe.

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