Published On: Wed, Aug 30th, 2017

EU Brexit chiefs 'incapable' of carrying out flexible divorce talks, UK officials warn


The UK’s Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) is understood to believe that their EU counterparts have been instructed against negotiating in the form of a loose framework.

The European Commission’s team of negotiators, led by former French minister Michel Barnier, are mandated by the governments of EU member countries to carry out the negotiations on their behalf.

DExEU’s verdict comes as Brexit Secretary David Davis is preparing to hold a news conference alongside Mr Barnier to mark the end of the third round of talks.

So far, little progress has been made during the Brexit negotiations, according to reports.

The EU has insisted “sufficient progress” must be made on a financial settlement, the Irish border and EU citizens’ right before talks can be held on any future relationship and trade.

However, the UK has repeatedly claimed trade issues must be discussed now because they are inextricably linked to the separation issues.

In response to Mr Barnier’s call for “serious” negotiations, one British source familiar with the negotiations said: “The view around town is that ‘serious’ means agreeing with them. That is not what it means.”

On the contentious issue of the so-called divorce bill, an unsatisfied source told Sky News that the EU has provided just four pages to outline its position.

The source said: “Why would the UK negotiators sign off large sums on four pages?”

Before the most recent Brexit meeting between the two, the EU’s chief negotiator suggested the UK’s demands were unclear despite the UK outlining its position.

Last week the UK Government released a number of Brexit papers which clarified Britain’s position over issues such as the Irish border, customs union and European Court of Justice.

Mr Barnier said: “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 a transitional period.

“The EU 27 and the European Parliament stand united. They will not accept that separation issues are not addressed properly.

“I am ready to intensify negotiations over the coming weeks in order to advance.”

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker also took a swipe at the UK’s negotiating position, insisting papers presented by the UK last week were not “satisfactory”.

Mr Juncker said: “I would like to be clear that I did read with the requisite attention all the papers produced by Her Majesty’s government and none of those is actually satisfactory.”

The current timetable for the negotiating process set by the European Commission allows for four negotiating days per month.


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