Brexit talks stalled over money, says EU

Barnier re­fuses to rec­om­mend dis­cussing trade

Irish Daily Mail - - News - news@dai­ly­ By Ir­ish Daily Mail Re­porter

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.’

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