POLITICS

EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier Slams No 'Decisive Progress' On Brexit Talks

Accuses Britain of 'sort of nostalgia' at frosty press conference with David Davis.

31/08/2017 12:36 | Updated 31 August 2017

Michel Barnier has slammed no “decisive progress” on Brexit talks in Brussels in a fractious joint press conference with David Davis in Brussels. 

European Commission chief Brexit negotiator Barnier said issues of "trust" remain behind himself and Brexit Secretary Davis, before accusing the UK of a "sort of nostalgia".

He also went on to say the two sides are still “quite far” away from being in a position to begin discussions on future trade arrangements in October.

Barnier admitted there had been “fruitful” discussions on how Britain’s divorce from the bloc would affect Ireland and Northern Ireland, but struck a pessimistic tone overall.

At a frosty joint press conference, Barnier said: “We did not get any decisive progress on any of the principal subjects.”

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The pair exchanged barbs at the press conference

The UK wants to begin trade talks as soon as possible, but Brussels insists that discussions about the future relationship after Brexit can only begin once “sufficient progress” has been made on the arrangements for withdrawal - including on the so-called “divorce fee” and rights for EU nationals living in the UK.

Barnier said: “At the current state of progress we are quite far from being able to say that sufficient progress has taken place, sufficient for me to be able to recommend to the European Council that it engage in discussions on the future relationship between the UK and EU at the same time as we would, during the course of 2018, go on working on finalising the exit and withdrawal agreement.”

Davis insisted there had been “some concrete progress”, telling the conference: “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.

 

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“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.”

Davis said the UK has presented its legal analysis on the financial settlement.

“The Commission has set out its position and we have a duty to our taxpayers to interrogate it rigorously.

“At this round we presented our legal analysis, on on-budget issues, on off-budget issues, and on the EIB - European Investment Bank.

“It’s fair to say across the piece we have a very different legal stance, but as we said in the Article 50 letter the settlement should be in accordance with law and in the spirit of the UK’s continuing partnership with the EU.”

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