By Alastair Macdonald, Jan Strupczewski, Philip Blenkinsop and Gabriela Baczynska
The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator said on Thursday that no “decisive progress” had been achieved in the third round of Brexit negotiations in Brussels, and that opening talks on the two sides’ future relationship in October was unlikely.
“Over the course of this week we have made a number of useful clarification on a number of points, for instance the status of border workers,” Michel Barnier told a joint news conference with Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis.
“However, we did not get any decisive progress on any of the principle subjects, even though on the discussion we had about Ireland – that discussion was fruitful.”
Barnier scolded London for demanding the “impossible” – including having a say on the EU’s single market rules while being outside of it – in a series of position papers the British government released last week.
He said both sides disagreed again on Thursday on the EU’s demand, firmly rejected by Britain, that the European Court of Justice must be allowed to police the enforcement of rights of EU citizens residing in Britain after Brexit, and vice versa.
“In July, the UK recognised that it has (financial) obligations beyond the Brexit date,” Barnier said. “But this week the UK explained that its obligations will be limited to their last payment to the EU budget before their departure.”
“Yet we have joint obligations to third partners… After this week it’s clear that UK does not feel legally obliged to honour these obligations after departure.”
Barnier made clear the EU’s and Britain’s positions on Brexit remained so far apart there was little chance the EU would agree to start talks about its future relationship with London as had originally been expected in October.
“Which such uncertainty – how can we build trust and discuss future relationship?” Barnier said.
“We are quite far from being able to say that sufficient progress has taken place, sufficient for me to be able to recommend to the European Council that it engage in discussions on the future relationship between the UK and EU.”