Negotiations between the EU and UK on a future relationship are to resume tomorrow in London after both sides adopted new principles on how the talks should proceed.
The breakthrough follows a week-long stand-off following last Thursday's summit of EU leaders, and the subsequent declaration by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the talks were effectively over.
In a statement, both sides have agreed that the talks should intensify, with negotiations taking place daily and at weekends, with the initial phase running from 22 to 25 October.
The breakthrough follows a statement by the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier this morning that an agreement was within reach if both sides worked together constructively and were prepared to compromise.
Following his remarks, Downing Street said the intervention was "significant".
In a tweet the UK's chief negotiator David Frost said: "We have agreed that a basis for negotiations with the EU and Michel Barnier has been re-established. Intensive talks will happen every day and begin tomorrow afternoon, 22 October, in London."
We have agreed that a basis for negotiations with the EU & @michelbarnier has been re-established. Intensive talks will happen every day & begin tomorrow afternoon, 22 October, in London.— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) October 21, 2020
Here is the UK statement & link to the agreed working methodology.https://t.co/2MLr8KrPfv
The joint principles say that the starting point of the negotiations will be the draft legal texts already published by both sides in March, and that all issues will be dealt with "concurrently".
Both sides have agreed that the talks should be speeded up so that agreement on various aspects can be reached as quickly as possible.
The lead officials who head up the various negotiating files will "move as quickly as possible" in order to identify common ground which could lead to what is termed "consolidated texts".
The statement says: "This next and final phase of the negotiations will in principle be on the basis of each side's legal texts while a common approach is found, unless lead negotiators in an individual workstream agree that a different approach is more appropriate."
Officials and lawyers from both sides will create a joint secretariat to manage the process.
Alongside that there will be "discussions" on the "more political issues" which remain the key obstacles, including the level playing field, governance, fisheries, energy and the trade in goods and services.
Where necessary Michel Barnier and David Frost, and/or their deputies, will meet daily in "restricted session" according to progress.
They will be expected to give direction to the lead officials across the subject areas and to "deal with the most sensitive political issues in the talks".
The statement says that nothing is agreed until a "final overall agreement is reached".
After 25 October the negotiations will take place in person in London and Brussels, with both sides giving "due regard to the evolving Covid-19 situation, the practicalities of travel, and, in particular, the different levels of risk in both London and Brussels".