Brexit talks in Brussels marked by disagreement

The third round of the negotiations between EU and United Kingdom on the Brexit conditions did not result in any breakthrough this week. At a press conference yesterday (31 August), the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said that he was concerned about the negotiations. “Time is passing quickly and with each day that goes by, we are getting closer to the United Kingdom's withdrawal, on 29 March 2019 at midnight,” he said.

He continued: “The fundamental question for which we need an answer is whether on this day, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union in an orderly manner, with an agreement, or whether the United Kingdom will leave the European Union with no deal.”

The British chief negotiator, David Davis, seemed frustrated and said “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."

Barnier was open about the disagreements which block further progress in the negotiations. His mandate from the European Council requires “that work be done in the right order to succeed.”

“At the current speed, we are far from being able to recommend to the European Council that there has been sufficient progress in order to start discussions on the future relationship. Those who look for the slightest difference between what this European negotiating team is doing and what Member States want are wasting their time,” Barnier said.

He mentioned two examples where the two sides still need to build trust. On citizen rights, he mentioned that 100 EU and EEA citizens living lawfully in the UK had received deportation notes over the summer.

The UK government quickly recognized that it was mistake but according to Barnier “it reinforces the need to ensure that citizens' rights are directly enforceable in front of national jurisdictions, under the control of the European Court of justice, a point on which we disagree today.”

The disagreement runs even deeper on financial issues. According to Barnier, EU should not pay for British obligations beyond the Brexit date. Examples of such obligations are long-term loans and development aid to other countries. UK is of the opinion that its financial obligations end on Brexit date.

The Brussels Times

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