Michel Barnier says ‘serious divergences remain’ in Brexit negotiations

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator was speaking at the close of this week’s talks with his UK counterpart David Frost.
Press Association

By Martin Banks

02 Jul 2020

Michel Barnier has restated that there will be no deal on Brexit unless the UK meets EU demands across a raft of issues.

The two sides still seem far apart on a range of issues despite Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, saying recently he wants to “put a tiger in the tank” of the talks.

Barnier, speaking on Thursday, said, “This week, David Frost and I continued our discussions, together with a restricted number of experts on each side. The EU engaged constructively in this week’s restricted round of negotiations, in line with our mandate. We now need equivalent engagement from the UK.”

“The EU engaged constructively in this week’s restricted round of negotiations, in line with our mandate. We now need equivalent engagement from the UK”

As agreed two weeks ago at the High-Level conference meeting between Johnson and presidents Ursula von der Leyen, David Sassoli and Charles Michel, the EU, Barnier said, had sought to “inject new dynamics” in the talks.

“Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement. However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.”

The EU side had listened to Johnson's statements in recent weeks, in particular, his request to reach a political agreement quickly, and the UK red lines: no role for the European Court of Justice in the UK; no obligation for the UK to continue to be bound by EU law, as well as an agreement on fisheries that shows Brexit makes a real difference.

Barnier added, “The EU's position remains, based on the Political Declaration, that there will be no economic partnership without: robust guarantees for a level playing field - including on state aid - to ensure open and fair competition among our businesses; a balanced, sustainable and long-term solution for our European fishermen and women, and an overarching institutional framework and effective dispute settlement mechanisms.”

“Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement. However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain”

“We will continue to insist on parallel progress on all areas. The EU expects, in turn, its positions to be better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement. We need an equivalent engagement by the UK.”

He concluded, “We continue to believe that an agreement is possible and in everyone's interest. We look forward to the next round of negotiations in the week of 20 July.”

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