EU of­fi­cial: Brexit deal dead­line will be missed as talks go­ing nowhere

■ Prime min­is­ter in­sists her gov­ern­ment is ‘com­ing for­ward with ideas’

Irish Examiner - - News - Fi­achra Ó Cion­naith and David Hughes

A se­nior EU of­fi­cial has warned that the first Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions dead­line of Oc­to­ber may be missed, due to Britain’s re­peated fail­ure to pro­vide de­tailed plans on how to ad­dress a stand-off.

Bel­gian MEP and leader of the Al­liance of Lib­er­als and Democrats for Europe group Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt raised the is­sue, de­spite Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May claim­ing that her gov­ern­ment is “com­ing for­ward with the ideas” on what ac­tion to take.

Speak­ing 24 hours after the EU’s chief ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier heav­ily crit­i­cised Britain’s ac­tions to date, and as Fianna Fáil raised fresh con­cerns over the im­pact of Brexit on Ire­land’s avi­a­tion in­dus­try, Mr Ver­hof­s­tadt said the lat­est Brexit talks are “go­ing nowhere”.

Hit­ting out at Britain’s in­ac­tion on the is­sue to date, he said the Oc­to­ber dead­line for the end of the first stage of Brexit talks is now in doubt — po­ten­tially hav­ing the knock-on ef­fect of push­ing back any fi­nal Brexit deal in 2019.

“We need, from both sides, po­si­tion pa­pers on ev­ery be­fore you can re­ally start a ne­go­ti­a­tion. If only one part around the table is put­ting in a po­si­tion pa­per and the other party is not re­spond­ing, then it is very dif­fi­cult to start a ne­go­ti­a­tion.

“If it goes very slow, as is the case for the mo­ment, it will be very dif­fi­cult to say there is suf­fi­cient progress when we are in Oc­to­ber,” he said.

The com­ment came after EU chief ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier used the lat­est Brexit talks process — which con­tin­ues to­day — to re­buke Britain for fail­ing to pro­vide clear de­tails on ci­ti­zens’ rights, trade talks, and the Ir­ish bor­der.

How­ever, re­spond­ing to the crit­i­cisms while on a pre­ar­ranged visit to Ja­pan, Prime Min­is­ter May claimed that her gov­ern­ment was “com­ing for­ward with the ideas” on how to move for­ward from the cur­rent ne­go­ti­at­ing stand-off.

“We have been pub­lish­ing a series of pa­pers over the sum­mer, there will be more pa­pers to come; where we are set­ting out the key is­sues that both sides need to ad­dress, the op­tions that we have, the ideas we have, of how to deal with those.

“It’s the United King­dom that has been com­ing foris­sue ward with the ideas and with the clar­ity about the fu­ture,” she said.

When asked if her mantra is no deal is still bet­ter than a bad deal, she said: “Yes, I think that is right. We want a deal that is the right deal for the UK.”

Mean­while, Fianna Fáil trans­port spokesper­son Robert Troy heav­ily crit­i­cised Trans­port Min­is­ter Shane Ross, say­ing the In­de­pen­dent Al­liance TD needs to “get off his rear” and ne­go­ti­ate di­rectly with his Bri­tish coun­ter­parts to pro­tect Ire­land’s avi­a­tion in­dus­try.

At the launch of his party’s “Brexit Chal­lenge for Avi­a­tion in Ire­land” doc­u­ment, Mr Troy said the avi­a­tion in­dus­try is in dire need of pro­tec­tion from Brexit and that it should be put “at the heart of ne­go­ti­a­tions”.

The view was re­peated by Ryanair chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael O’Leary at a sep­a­rate event, with the busi­ness­man say­ing he and his col­leagues “re­main con­cerned at the un­cer­tainty which sur­rounds” the Brexit talks.

Mr O’Leary be­lieves flights be­tween the UK and the EU will be grounded in sum­mer 2019 if no agree­ment on flights is reached by Septem­ber next year, as part of the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Pic­ture: Getty

Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt: Hit­ting out at Britain’s in­ac­tion, he said the lat­est Brexit talks are ‘go­ing nowhere’.

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