Brussels, March 3 (IANS) The European Union (EU) and the UK have started the negotiations for a new partnership following Britain’s exit from the bloc on January 31.

The talks began on Monday with a bilateral meeting between the chief negotiators, the EU’s Michel Barnier and the UK’s David Frost, Xinhua news agency reported.

With around 100 British officials participating, the first round of negotiations will cover 11 areas including trade in goods and services, energy and transport, as the agenda showed on the UK government’s website.

“We approach these negotiations in a constructive spirit. We want to agree an ambitious and fair partnership. We will respect our prior joint commitments,” said Barnier on Twitter.

The first round of negotiations is set to last until Thursday.

The UK officially left the EU on January 31, but is continuing to abide by many of the bloc’s rules while talks on a permanent trading relationship take place.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to get a deal with the EU by the end of the transition period – December 31, 2020 – and has said he was not prepared to extend that deadline.

Both Frost and Johnson have said in recent weeks they want to seek a Canada-style agreement with zero tariffs from the EU, the BBC reported.

But Barnier has rejected such a deal, saying the UK is not like Canada, and its geographical proximity would threaten competition between EU states.




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