Liz Truss and eurocrat Maros Sefcovic agreed swift progress is needed after months of uncertainty – but a resolution to the stalemate appeared to be some way off.
Officials will now hold “intensive” discussion over the next few days, while the Foreign Secretary stays in contact with the European Commission Vice-President.
A joint statement said: “They agreed on the need for progress [and] to stay in close touch and that officials will continue intensive discussions in the coming days.”
Ms Truss hosted Mr Sefcovic in London yesterday for their third in-person meeting since she took on responsibility for the negotiations after Lord Frost quit.
She insisted that finding a solution to the NI Protocol dispute and protecting peace in the region is an “absolute priority” – while emphasising that the EU and the UK have a “shared responsibility” to do so.
The NI Protocol issue led to fresh political upheaval last week when the DUP withdrew Paul Givan as first minister in protest at the deal.
Mr Givan said the protocol, which has created trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, undermined a cornerstone of powersharing in the region – governance with the consent of both nationalists and unionists.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the protocol had created an Irish Sea border that represents the single greatest threat to Northern Ireland’s place in the UK in a generation.
He warned trade barriers within the UK have the “grave potential to succeed where decades of terrorism failed”.