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EU says positions on Brexit 'far apart', talks must quicken

FILE PHOTO: European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic takes part in Brexit talks with Britain's Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove in Brussels, Belgium September 28, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain’s position in talks on Brexit is “far apart” from what the European Union can accept and negotiations need to be urgently shifted into a higher gear, European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic said on Monday after talks with a senior UK minister.

“The UK’s positions are far apart from what the EU can accept. I have repeated the EU’s request to withdraw the contentious part of the draft Internal Markets Bill by the end of September,” told a news conference in Brussels.

He was speaking after a meeting with UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael in a Joint Committee tasked with implementing Britain’s Withdrawal Agreement and a proposed Internal Markets Bill that would undermine the divorce deal struck last year.

“We maintain that the bill, if adopted in its current form would constitute an extremely serious violation of the protocol and an essential part of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law,” Sefcovic said.

He added that Monday’s joint committee meeting had shown “the urgent need to move into a higher gear” in the coming days before the next meeting in mid-October.