EU’s Barnier eyes move by De­cem­ber

The Korea Times - - WORLD - BRUS­SELS (AFP) —

Bri­tain and the EU are stuck in a “dis­turb­ing” dead­lock over the Brexit di­vorce bill, though a break­through re­mains pos­si­ble in the next two months, EU ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier said Thurs­day.

In a ges­ture to Lon­don, EU lead­ers are set at a sum­mit next week to or­der the launch of prepara­tory work on a fu­ture trade deal, even though they will not ap­prove mov­ing on to full trade talks un­til De­cem­ber.

But the stale­mate will stoke fears swirling in Lon­don and Brus­sels of a break­down in talks that could see Bri­tain leav­ing the Euro­pean Union in March 2019 with­out an agree­ment to soften the blow.

Af­ter a fifth round of talks with Bri­tain’s David Davis, Barnier said he “can­not rec­om­mend” to EU lead­ers at the Oct. 19-20 sum­mit that ne­go­ti­a­tions move on from di­vorce is­sues to talks on a post-Brexit re­la­tion­ship. The French­man re­served his most cut­ting com­ments for the is­sue of fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments, say­ing Bri­tain had still not spelled out what Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May promised in a key speech in Florence, Italy, last month.

“We are at a dead­lock on this ques­tion which is ex­tremely dis­turb­ing,” Barnier said at a press con­fer­ence with Davis at the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion head­quar­ters in Brus­sels.

But Barnier added: “I re­main con­vinced that with po­lit­i­cal will, de­ci­sive break­throughs are within reach in the coming two months.”

‘Tiger in the tank’

The lead­ers of the 27 other EU coun­tries have de­manded there be “suf­fi­cient progress” on the Brexit bill, the rights of EU cit­i­zens liv­ing in Bri­tain, and on North­ern Ire­land be­fore mov­ing on to dis­cuss a post-Brexit trade deal.

Ger­many has led op­po­si­tion to hav­ing even in­for­mal talks on trade or on a two-year trade tran­si­tion

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