Brexit talks: ‘The UK side continues to disappoint’

Following talks with the UK’s David Frost this week, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said that the “UK side continues to disappoint” in Brexit negotiations.

It is less than four months until the UK’s transition period is over and Barnier said yesterday (Wednesday, September 2) that, despite current challenges faced due to Covid-19, “the pandemic does not stop the Brexit clock from ticking”.

As the UK has “refused” any extension of the transition period, Barnier says “we have no more time to lose” and that a final agreement must be sought by the end of October.

“The ‘economic Brexit’ will in any case have negative consequences – many negative consequences,” Barnier said.

“We want a close partnership with the UK – provided the conditions are right.

“This is in everybody’s interest – Ireland’s, in particular.

So far, the UK has not engaged constructively.

“I am particularly worried – and disappointed – by the UK’s lack of engagement.

“Since the start of these negotiations, the UK has refused to engage on credible guarantees for open and fair competition.

“A level playing field is what Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to, explicitly, in the Political Declaration last year.

“We [EU negotiators] will not sacrifice – never sacrifice – the EU’s long-term economic and political interests for the sole benefit of the UK.

“It is time for the UK to reciprocate on those issues that are fundamental for the EU.”

‘UK government’s position would lock out Ireland’s fishermen’

Barnier added that the UK has “not shown any willingness to seek compromises on fisheries”.

“The UK government’s position has not evolved in past months. Where the EU has shown openness to possible solutions, the UK has shunned our offers.

Yet, the UK government’s position would lock out Ireland’s fishermen and women from waters they fished in long before Ireland or the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973.

“That is just not acceptable.”

Michel Barnier will be returning to London next week for the eight round of Brexit negotiations, in which he hopes afterwards to be able “to tell a new story – a story of real, tangible progress in all areas”.