British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the head of the EU's executive, Ursula von der Leyen, have agreed in a phone call to step up Brexit talks to close "significant gaps" barring a new trade partnership.
The two sides have said this week's round of talks aimed at getting a new, post-Brexit trade agreement from 2021 made some progress but not a breakthrough.
The EU says a deal must be sealed by the end of the month to leave enough time for ratification by the end of this year.
Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen discussed the next steps in their call today.
"They agreed on the importance of finding an agreement, if at all possible, as a strong basis for a strategic EU-UK relationship in future," they said in a joint statement.
"Progress had been made in recent weeks but ... significant gaps remained, notably but not only in the areas of fisheries, the level playing field, and governance," it added.
The two leaders instructed their Brexit negotiators, Michel Barnier and David Frost, "to work intensively in order to try to bridge those gaps".
More trade talks are due in London next week and in Brussels the following week before the 27 national EU leaders meet on 15 and 16 October to assess progress.
An estimated trillion euro worth of annual trade would be at stake if they fail to get an agreement.
The EU says it will not implement any new deal if Britain undermines their earlier Brexit divorce treaty with its draft Internal Market Bill.
Good phone call with @BorisJohnson about the state of play in the 🇪🇺-🇬🇧 negotiations.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 3, 2020
While progress had been made, significant gaps remain. We agreed that it's important to find an agreement as strong basis for a strategic relationship.
Joint statement → https://t.co/Tl3jdRIZqB pic.twitter.com/rUTSp8l9dP
The Taoiseach tonight welcomed the announcement that the EU and the UK are to intensify their efforts to reach a compromise agreement in the Brexit negotiations.
Micheál Martin was commenting on the joint statement issued by the European Commission President and the British Prime Minister after they spoke by telephone this afternoon.
The Taoiseach told RTÉ News that a comprehensive agreement would be in the interest of all parties and he hopes progress will be made.
Additional reporting: Tommie Gorman