EU negotiator asks Michel Barnier has urged the UK to start ‘negotiating seriously’….reports Asian Lite News
The European Unions (EU) chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has urged the UK to start “negotiating seriously”, as the third round of talks involving Britain’s exit from the 27-member bloc began in Brussels, the media reported.
Barnier said he welcomed the British government’s position papers, which he said had been read “very carefully” in Brussels, but added that he wanted the UK to come clean on how much it was prepared to pay in terms of an exit bill, reports the Guardian.
“We need UK positions on all separation issues. This is necessary to make sufficient progress… must start negotiating seriously. We need UK papers that are clear in order to have constructive negotiations.
“The sooner we remove the ambiguity the sooner we will be in a position to discuss the future relationship and to a transitional period,” Barnier added.
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator said no decisive progress had been made in the discussions regarding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the bloc.
“We did not get any decisive progress on any of the principal subjects,” Barnier said, adding, however, that talks on the future border situation between the Republic of Ireland — an EU member state — and Northern Ireland — a region of the UK — had been fruitful.
Maintaining a soft Irish border is one of the key EU principals in the bloc’s approach to the preliminary stages of the talks, as well as the fate of citizens’ rights and financial obligations on the part of the UK, the report said.
Barnier said he felt that the UK negotiation team, headed by Brexit Secretary David Davis, did not feel obligated to honour its legal commitments to several EU plans and initiatives, some of which are due to last until 2020.
“With such uncertainty, how can we build trust and start discussing a future relationship?” Barnier said.
Davis, whose job was created in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Cabinet following the Brexit referendum in June 2016, said the UK would examine its legal obligations to the EU “line by line”.
Contradicting Barnier’s criticism of slow progress in the talks, Davis said the UK’s approach so far had been more pragmatic than that of the EU and insisted that concrete progress had been made.
The British government has previously advocated for future UK-EU trade discussions to be held at the same time as the preliminary Brexit talks. However, the EU has insisted that its three key points — which include tallying up a UK divorce bill — must be agreed upon before a future relationship can be hammered out.
“Our discussions this week have exposed yet again that the UK’s approach is substantially more flexible and pragmatic than that of the EU as it avoids unnecessary disruption for businesses and consumers,” he said.
Barnier said time was flying and, for that reason, his negotiation team was willing to pick up the intensity of the talks.
The UK is due to be fully withdrawn from the EU by March 29, 2019, exactly two years after May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty — the official mechanism to secede from the supranational organisation.
UK’s Brexit secretary David Davis has repeatedly said this timetable is “inflexible”.
“For the United Kingdom, the week ahead is about driving forward the technical discussion 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,” the Guardian quoted Davis as saying.
More than 100 British officials are expected to take part in this third round of talks, dedicated to the three divorce issues and technical problems such as the status of goods crossing borders after Brexit day.
The UK is set to leave the EU by the end of March 2019, following last year’s referendum vote.
British and EU officials are meeting each month for four days in Brussels to discuss Brexit.
May under fire
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May and her allies have launched a desperate bid to prevent a Tory rebellion over Brexit.
The House of Commons meets for the first time on Tuesday after seven weeks summer break and one of its first acts will be to vote on the so-called Repeal Bill. The Bill will let Britain change thousands of EU laws into UK law on 29 March 2019, the day we leave the EU.But Labour and some Tory MPs are furious at its inclusion of sweeping ‘Henry VIII’ powers to change the law without consulting MPs.
In another development, more than half of Tory members want to see Theresa May stand down before the next election, a new survey has revealed.
Research by the Conservative Home website shows 52% of party members want to see the Prime Minister gone by 2022. May vowed last week to lead the Tories into the next election – a comment which prompted a mixed response from colleagues given the disastrous outcome of the June vote.
Conservative Home editor Paul Goodman, a Tory MP from 2001 to 2010, said her remarks did little more than “hand political ammunition to her internal critics.”
Goodman added: “Our judgement is that as matters stand she doesn’t have enough backing within either Party members or Conservative MPs to see her words of last week through.
“However, there is no consensus at all within the Party on who should replace her, and most Tory MPs (and activists) don’t want to risk another election soon – which gives her the chance to rebuild her position, if she and her team can take it.”