EU official: Brexit deal deadline will be missed as talks going nowhere
■ Prime minister insists her government is ‘coming forward with ideas’
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.
Guy Verhofstadt: Hitting out at Britain’s inaction, he said the latest Brexit talks are ‘going nowhere’.