The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator has said there has been no change in the British position on the future relationship negotiations following his informal meeting with the UK's chief negotiator David Frost in London this week. 

Mr Barnier made the remarks in a wide-ranging but downbeat assessment of negotiations during a virtual address to the Institute for International and Economic Affairs. 

He said the UK has so far "not engaged constructively" on the EU's conditions for an agreement, especially on what he called "credible guarantees" for open and fair competition between both sides post-Brexit. 

Mr Barnier accused the UK of showing no willingness to compromise on the fisheries question, and said London had been "extremely reluctant" to explore a dispute resolution mechanism that both sides could adhere to in the future. 

He said that overall the UK wanted a clean break from the EU but still wanted to access key parts of the EU single market without meeting its obligations. 

Any unfair advantage for the UK could affect tens of thousands of EU jobs, he said, including jobs in Ireland. 

"Of course, Ireland's particularly close relationship with the UK makes these questions even more important, especially for businesses exporting to Great Britain or competing with British companies," he told the IIEA.  

"Any trade and economic partnership between economies as close and interconnected as ours must include robust and credible mechanisms to avoid trade distortions and unfair competitive advantages," he stated. 

"This is particularly important in the area of state aid, where the potential to distort competition using subsidies is significant," he added. 

"A level playing field that ensures common high standards in areas such as labour rights and the environment and with effective domestic enforcement and dispute settlement mechanisms, is the only way to start a new relationship between the EU and the UK on a firm and sustainable footing," Mr Barnier said. 

On fisheries, Mr Barnier said the EU was prepared to compromise, but the UK had shown no willingness to move on its opening position. 

"Yet the UK government's position would lock out Ireland's fishermen and women from waters they fished in long before Ireland or the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973," he said.

"And of course, the fishermen and women of many other EU countries. That is just not acceptable" he added.

"We fully understand and respect that the UK will become an independent coastal state, outside the Common Fisheries Policy. But we will not accept that the work and the livelihoods of these men and women be used as a bargaining chip in these negotiations," he stated.

Any solution, Mr Barnier said, needed to ensure a balance between greater access to fish stocks for UK fishing fleets and "safeguarding the activities and livelihoods of European fishermen and women." 

"Without a long-term, fair and sustainable solution on fisheries, there will simply be no new economic partnership with the UK," he warned. 

Mr Barnier also said he would miss the role played for the former Irish commissioner Phil Hogan, who resigned in dramatic circumstances last week. 

"In this context, I will miss Phil Hogan, on whom I could always count to relay any Irish concerns to me very directly over the last four years," he said. 

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank him warmly for all the work he has done for Europe as Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, and, more recently, as Commissioner for Trade," he said.

"In particular in the context of the current negotiations with the UK, where he and his team of trade experts, including Sabine Weyand, have been of great value. I used to meet him once a week as Trade Commissioner. And I look forward to working with the future Commissioner of Irish nationality in the final stretch of the negotiations with the UK," he added.

Mr Barnier said he was convinced that the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted a deal, but the EU would not agree to a settlement that undermined the single market "for the sole benefit of the UK." 

He said work was continuing to find a solution to the land bridge question, by which Irish hauliers carry goods to the rest of the EU via the UK.

However, he warned there were concerns over the readiness of UK ports and that shipping operators, hauliers and exporters would have to "adapt" to a new situation. 

Mr Barnier said that many time-sensitive preparations remained to be completed to ensure that the Irish Protocol can come into effect on 1 January. 

He warned that the full implementation of the Protocol was needed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and to ensure the continuation of the all-Ireland economy.

The EU side now doubts a deal can be sealed in time for approval at October 15-16 summit of the bloc's 27 national leaders in Brussels and Mr Barnier also said the strict deadline was the end of that month to give enough time for ratification by 2021.

"We have no more time to lose," Mr Barnier said.

Meanwhile a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that UK and EUs negotiators had a useful review of the agenda for Brexit talks at a meeting this week.

But he added that there are still "major difficulties" to overcome to make progress.

"They had a useful review of the whole agenda for our talks, but as I said major difficulties remain," the spokesman said, referring to a meeting of Britain's negotiator, David Frost, and Michael Barnier, the European Union's negotiator. 

"The EU's insistence on progress on state aid and fisheries is an obstacle to making progress overall but we remain in close contact with the EU side and we'll look forward to the next round of talks next week in London," he added.

Additional reporting from Reuters