Irish premier Micheal Martin has said it is very important that his country’s fishing communities are protected in any trade deal with the UK.

Arriving for the EU summit in Brussels, the Taoiseach said future fishing rights was one of the key issues still to be resolved in the negotiations.

“It is very important to us in Ireland that our coastal communities are protected in an overall deal on Brexit through a sensible and fair fisheries deal,” he said.

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European Council president Charles Michel tweeted: “Today we will discuss our future relationship with the UK. We want an agreement, but we also want to protect the level playing field. It’s a question of fairness and the integrity of the single market.”

Earlier, Number 10 said progress had been made over the last few days – primarily in technical areas – but that differences still remain, namely over fishing rights.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Some progress has been made this week, primarily in technical areas of the negotiations, but there are still differences, with fisheries being the starkest.

“We need to get the substance settled and not having a common text to work from has made progress doubly difficult.

“The Prime Minister’s September 7 statement was very clear about the significance of October 15.

“He will need to take a decision on next steps following the European Council in the light of his conversation with President von der Leyen, and on advice from his negotiating team.

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“I cannot prejudge what that decision will be.”

Ahead of the latest EU summit in Brussels, Boris Johnson voiced his “disappointment” that they had not been able to move forward more quickly.

The Prime Minister had previously said that he would walk away from the negotiations unless there was agreement by the time of the two-day gathering in the Belgian capital, starting Thursday.