Brussels, October 12: The European Union’s Brexit negotiator said Thursday that that little progress was made with the U.K. in a fifth round of talks on the country’s departure from the EU in 2019 and that he cannot yet recommend broadening negotiations to include trade.
Michel Barnier said that despite the “constructive spirit” shown in this week’s negotiations in Brussels, “we haven’t made any great steps forward.” On the question of how much Britain has to pay to settle its financial commitments, he said: “We have reached a state of deadlock, which is disturbing.”
Barnier said he would not be able to recommend to EU leaders meeting next week that “sufficient progress” has been made to broaden the talks to future EU-British relations like trade.
The leaders meet in Brussels on Oct. 19-20, and it had been hoped they would agree to widen the talks.
The EU says this can only happen when there has been progress on the issues of the financial settlement, the rights of citizens affected by Brexit and the status of the Northern Ireland-Ireland border.
But Britain says these issues are closely intertwined with their future relations like trade and must be discussed together.
“I hope the member states will see the progress we have made and take a step forward” next week, British Brexit envoy David Davis told reporters.
“We would like them to give Michel the means to broaden the negotiations. It’s up to them whether they do it. Clearly I think it’s in the interests of the United Kingdom and the European Union that they do,” Davis said.
Barnier said the two sides would work to achieve “sufficient progress” in time for a subsequent meeting of EU leaders in December.
Britain must leave the EU on March 29, 2019, but the negotiations must be completed within about a year to leave time for EU states’ national parliaments to ratify the Brexit agreement.(VOA)