Brexit talks dead­lock on cash, Barnier eyes move by De­cem­ber

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BRUS­SELS: Brexit talks are dead­locked over money, the EU’s Michel Barnier said on Thurs­day as he ruled out dis­cus­sions on fu­ture trade be­ing launched by EU lead­ers next week but spoke of pos­si­ble progress by De­cem­ber.

Barnier and his Bri­tish coun­ter­part, Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis, told re­porters there had been some progress this week on the other two is­sues around Bri­tain’s March 2019 with­drawal from the bloc on which the EU de­mands “suf­fi­cient progress” be­fore it will agree to dis­cuss a tran­si­tion and fu­ture re­la­tion­ship.

Davis re­newed his call for EU lead­ers to give a green light to those talks when they meet Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May at an EU sum­mit in Brus­sels next Thurs­day.

Barnier made clear, how­ever, that de­spite new mo­men­tum from con­ces­sions given by May in a speech at Florence on 22nd last month, Bri­tish pro­pos­als on ex­pa­tri­ate cit­i­zens’ rights and the Ir­ish bor­der still failed the EU test, while Lon­don’s re­fusal to spell out a de­tailed cash of­fer was “very wor­ry­ing” for busi­ness.

May said Bri­tain would en­sure the other 27 coun­tries did not lose out fi­nan­cially from Brexit in the cur­rent EU bud­get pe­riod to 2020 and would hon­our com­mit­ments — but Barnier said Lon­don was fail­ing to spell out just what it was ready to pay.

“Re­gard­ing that ques­tion, we are at an im­passe, which is very wor­ry­ing for thou­sands of projects ev­ery­where in Europe and also wor­ry­ing for those who con­trib­ute,” he said.

None­the­less, he of­fered hope: “I am still con­vinced that, with po­lit­i­cal will, de­ci­sive progress is within reach in the com­ing two months. With David Davis, we will or­gan­ise sev­eral ne­go­ti­at­ing meet­ings be­tween now and the end of the year.”

With signs that nerves are fray­ing on both sides and some hard­line Brexit sup­port­ers de­mand­ing that May just walk out of talks, both ne­go­tia­tors re­peated that they were ready for any even­tu­al­ity in­clud­ing a col­lapse. But, Barnier warned, “no deal would be a very bad deal”.

Davis an­nounced a “stream­lined” new sys­tem for the 3 mil­lion EU cit­i­zens in Bri­tain to claim res­i­dence rights, an­swer­ing EU con­cerns, and said he ex­pected good fur­ther progress on other is­sues. Barnier re­peated that Brus­sels stills wants them to have re­course to EU judges to safe­guard their rights and said there were still dif­fer­ences on rights for fu­ture fam­ily mem­bers.

A Bri­tish de­mand for its mil­lion or so cit­i­zens on the con­ti­nent to have life­time rights to move to any of the bloc’s 27 coun­tries after Brexit is held up by doubts among the mem­ber states. Barnier said those are rights to do with post-Brexit de­ci­sions and should be dealt with in the next phase of talks.

“I make no se­cret of the fact that to pro­vide cer­tainty we must talk about the fu­ture,” Davis said, stress­ing his de­mand for trade talks. “I hope the lead­ers of the 27 will pro­vide Michel with the means to ex­plore ways for­ward with us on that.”

— Reuters

5-Star Move­ment sup­port­ers protest in front of Mon­tecito­rio Gov­ern­ment Palace in Rome.

— AFP

Bri­tish car­toon­ist Madeleine Kay, an anti-Brexit ac­tivist wear­ing a cos­tume of Su­per­woman, speaks to jour­nal­ists as she tries to at­tend a press con­fer­ence at the Euro­pean Union Com­mis­sion in Brus­sels.

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