Barnier: No decisive progress on Brexit31/08/17Government
Europe’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier says there has been “no decisive progress” on crucial issues in discussions with the UK.
Barnier said negotiations were still “quite far” away from being in a position to begin talks on future trade arrangements.
He also said there were issues of “trust” between the two sides.
However, UK Brexit Secretary David Davis urged the EU to be “more imaginative and flexible” in its approach.
He said in his opinion there had been “some concrete progress” during the third round of talks in Brussels, Belgium.
During a joint press conference, Barnier acknowledged there had been some “fruitful” discussions on the issues surrounding the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
He also stressed that he was “impatient … I am not angry … I am impatient and determined” about the progress of negotiations.
The UK wants to begin trade talks, but Brussels has insisted that discussions about the future relationship after Brexit can only begin once “sufficient progress” has been made on the arrangements for withdrawal.
Barnier said that at the current rate of progress, he was quite far from being able to recommend opening parallel talks on a future trade relationship with the UK.
He claimed there were two areas where trust needed to be built between the two sides – on citizens’ rights and the financial settlement.
“How can we build trust and start discussing a future relationship?” he said.
But Davis told reporters the talks had revealed how the UK approach was “substantially more flexible and pragmatic than that of the EU”.
“This week we have had long and detailed discussions across multiple areas and I think it’s fair to say we have seen some concrete progress, and Michel referred to one but there’s more than that,” he said.
“However, as I said at the start of the week, it’s only through flexibility and imagination that we will achieve a deal that works truly for both sides.
“In some areas we have found this from the commission’s side, which I welcome, but there remains some way to go.”