Michel Barnier accuses United Kingdom of wasting time in Brexit trade negotiations

25 Avril, 2020, 08:51 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • The European Commission's Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom Michel Barnier gestures as he speaks during a media conference at E

(Alliance News) - European Union lead negotiator Michel Barnier accused Britain of refusing to "engage seriously on a range of fundamental points" after the second round of negotiations on their post-Brexit relations on Friday.

The EU's chief negotiator attacked the United Kingdom for ruling out any extension of the Brexit transition period to buy time for more talks, at the same time as failing to engage on key issues during this week's negotiations.

"Peace and stability in Ireland remain a priority", Barnier added.

Britain officially left the 27-nation bloc on January 31, but remains within the EU's economic orbit, including its single market for trade in goods and services, until the end of the year.

Britain described the second round of talks as "full and constructive", but said in a statement the two sides had made limited progress in bridging gaps.

And he warned that the "clock was ticking".

The two sides took stock of the technical work that has taken place since the first negotiating round on the basis of the legal texts exchanged by both sides.

On fisheries, Mr Barnier said the European Union would not agree to a deal without a "balanced, sustainable and long-term agreement", describing it as an "inseparable part of the trade agreement, along with the level-playing field".

A UK Government spokesman said: "Our assessment is that there was some promising convergence in the core areas of a Free Trade Agreement, for example on goods and services trade, and related issues such as energy, transport, and civil nuclear cooperation".

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"We need real progress by the month of June if we want to find a deal by the end of the year that meets the level of our interdependence and our geographic proximity", Barnier said.

Mr Barnier warned: 'The EU will not agree to any future economic partnership that does not include a balanced, sustainable and long-term solution on fisheries. "That should be crystal clear to the U.K".

Mr Barnier said the two sides "need to find solutions on the most hard topics". The transition period can be extended for up to two years, but Downing Street must give notice of this by 30 June. A membership fee in return for membership of the Single Market would need to be negotiated with the EU.

The two sides are racing to agree a deal by June after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson ruled out extending the transition period, which allows Britain to enjoy the same benefits and obligations it had as an European Union member until the year-end.

"This creates serious, serious limitations for our future security partnership", he said.

He also demanded "clear evidence" that Britain was making progress in preparing for customs checks in the Irish sea as part of the implementation of the Irish border deal in the Withdrawal Agreement.

He pointed out that devising such level playing field commitments had been agreed as a necessity "with Boris Johnson in our joint political declaration", which was ratified at the time as the withdrawal agreement.

The next round of talks are due to be held during the weeks beginning 11 May and 1 June.

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