Face-to-face talks between European Union and UK negotiators resumed in Brussels today for the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Both sides have agreed an intensification of negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship throughout July in a bid to overcome a number of fundamental disagreements.
The first round of talks was on 2 March, but then the pandemic struck.
Officials had to conduct negotiations over videolink and the number of negotiating rounds was curtailed.
After four rounds in total there was no progress on the key stumbling blocks.
They remain the level playing field, fisheries, police and judicial cooperation, and how disputes will be resolved in the future.
However, both sides have agreed to intensify negotiations.
Teams will be smaller, with some 20 UK officials travelling from London, compared to around 100 in early March.
But there will be greater hands on involvement by the two chief negotiators, Michel Barnier for the EU and David Frost for the UK.
The idea is that they can test the margins of manoeuvre, while providing sufficient political cover for any concessions.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said a deal can be done in July, but the EU remains consumed by the coronavirus recovery fund and the next seven-year budget.
All expectations are that September and October will be the crunch period for an agreement.
3/6 These meetings will be smaller and focused on seeing whether we can begin to make genuine and rapid progress towards an agreement.We will go to Brussels in good faith to engage with the EU's concerns.— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) June 25, 2020