World

First round of Brexit talks ends with no deal

BRUSSELS/LONDON The European Union and Britain offered few compromises at their first full round of Brexit talks that ended on Thursday, and the pound fell on worries that British ministers were prepared to walk away without a deal.

While negotiations went on in Brussels, British Prime Minister Theresa May met company bosses at home, with one employers' group saying her government needed to engage in "sustained and structured" discussions over Brexit.

On another note, academics warned of "widespread, damaging and pervasive" costs if Britain failed to reach at least a transitional trade deal with the EU before its scheduled departure.

At the European Commission, the negotiators showed common ground, but also confirmed differences over how to protect the future of expatriate citizens.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there was "a fundamental divergence" on how to protect the rights of EU citizens in Britain and of Britons in the remaining 27 EU countries after Brexit.

He said European courts should guarantee citizens' rights after Brexit.

"Any reference to European rights imply their oversight by the Court of Justice of the European Union," he told a joint news conference with British Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Britain, however, said people voted in the Brexit referendum to end shared EU sovereignty, and its judges should have jurisdiction.

British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox has said a trade deal with the EU should be "one of the easiest in human history" to reach, although the country could go without one.

The Sterling fell on concern about Brexit talks ending without a deal, which economists have warned could cripple business activity. It dropped 1.4 per cent on the day to an eight-month low against a rallying euro.

In Brussels, Mr Davis played down talk of no agreement, saying that while Britain would never accept a "punishment deal", he saw no reason to think the EU would try to push such an outcome. - REUTERS

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