Wed, Aug 30, 2017 - Page 6 News List

EU’s Brexit chief tells UK to speed up and ‘get serious’

The Guardian

EU Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier said he is “concerned” about the progress of talks and has urged the UK to start “negotiating seriously, as the third round of talks with British Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis began in Brussels.

Barnier said he welcomed the British government’s position papers, which he said had been read “very carefully” in Brussels, but standing beside Davis he added that he wanted the UK to come clean on how much it was prepared to pay in terms of an exit bill.

“We need UK positions on all separation issues. This is necessary to make sufficient progress. We must start negotiating seriously. We need UK papers that are clear in order to have constructive negotiations. And the sooner we remove the ambiguity the sooner we will be in a position to discuss the future relationship and to a transitional period,” he said.

However, Davis will refuse to spell out what he thinks the UK could be liable for, despite having admitted Britain has “obligations” from its 44 years of EU membership.

European leaders have agreed unanimously that the UK must make sufficient progress on three separation issues before talks can progress to trade. Barnier’s mandate means the UK has to reach an agreement on the financial settlement, the Irish border and EU citizens’ rights before discussing a future relationship with the EU.

Davis has repeatedly said this timetable is “inflexible.”

As he entered the talks, he repeated his call for the EU to show “imagination” about the organization of the talks.

“For the UK, the week ahead is about driving forward the technical discussion ahead across all the issues. We want to lock in the points where we agree, unpick the areas where we disagree and make further progress on the whole range of issues. In order to do that we require flexibility and imagination from both sides,” he said.

Before the negotiations started, sources at the Elysee poured cold water on suggestions of a possible Brexit climbdown by the EU led by France.

On Monday, it was reported that France favoured beginning trade talks in October, potentially breaking the deadlock over the timetable.

According to the report, France had proposed the UK pay 10 billion euros (US$12.04 billion) per year into the EU budget during a three-year transitional period and continue to accept EU law. The UK would then be allowed to progress to trade talks in October.

However, a source at the Elysee said the “allegations” in the Telegraph were baseless.

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