Brexit talks stalled over money, says EU
Barnier refuses to recommend discussing trade
BREXIT talks have made little progress, the EU’s chief negotiator has said, meaning he will not recommend broadening them to include trade.
Michel Barnier said that despite the ‘constructive spirit’ in this week’s fifth round of talks, ‘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.’
EU leaders are due to meet in Brussels on October 19 and 20. With little time to seal a deal, it had been hoped that they would agree to widen the talks.
The EU has said this can only happen when there has been progress on the issues of the financial settlement, the rights Concerned: Michel Barnier of citizens affected by Brexit, and the Irish border.
But Britain has argued that those issues are closely intertwined with future relations, including trade, and it wants them to be discussed together.
‘I hope the member states will see the progress we have made and take a step forward next week,’ Britain’s 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. I think it’s in the interests of the UK and the EU that they do.’
Mr Barnier said the two sides would work to achieve ‘sufficient progress’ in time for a 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.
European estimates on the size of the divorce bill have varied from around €60billion to €100billion, but UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has rejected such numbers – without clearly explaining how the amount should be calculated.
‘The UK repeated that it was still not ready to spell out these commitments,’ Mr Barnier said.
‘There have therefore been no negotiations on this subject.’
With the clock ticking, Mr Barnier said that parting with no deal would be ‘very bad’, but added: ‘To be clear, on our side we will be ready to face any and all eventualities.’
Meanwhile, Brexit uncertainty continues to ‘pose risks’ to the long-term prosperity of Ireland, the Central Bank has warned.
It said the weakness of sterling was ‘likely to dampen exports somewhat’. Sterling fell by more than 10% against the euro after the UK voted for Brexit in June of last year, and has continued to drop.
Central Bank chief economist Gabriel Fagan said: ‘Far from dampening consumer sentiment, Brexit is keeping the costs of many imported goods down.
‘Although this is good news for many Irish consumers, we must not underestimate the threat that Brexit poses to our longerterm prosperity, given our exposure to the UK economy.’