Tuesday

20th Oct 2020

Barnier urges UK to come up with Brexit positions

  • Barnier talked to the press after debriefing EU commissioners on the state of play of the Brexit talks (Photo: European Commission)

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, urged the UK to come up with its negotiating positions before the second round of talks due next Monday (17 July).

The French politician expressed his frustration that the UK has not formulated positions on key issues related to the divorce agreement, especially on the single financial settlement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The British government has not yet accepted the principle of the need for a financial settlement, arguing that it has no obligations once the UK leaves the EU.

At a press conference on Wednesday (12 July), Barnier warned that until the UK accepted the principle of paying, there would be no grounds to talk about future relations.

"This is a question of major importance in creating the basis that we need in starting the discussion on the future relationship,” he told journalists.

Barnier also fired back at foreign minister Boris Johnson who told EU leaders to “go whistle” if they expected Britain to pay.

“I’m not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking,” the chief negotiator quipped.

"It is not a ransom, it’s not an exit bill, it’s not punishment, not a revenge, it is simply settling accounts - any separation needs settling accounts,” he added.

"How would you build a relationship - on trade, on defence - which is going to last with a country with which you don’t have trust. … Trust means giving security for the four million [EU/UK] citizens, it means settling accounts,” Barnier stressed.

The French negotiator said that progress needs to be made on all three key subjects identified by the EU - citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, and the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland - to move onto the second phase on the future relations.

“We now need to know the UK position on each of these issues in order to make progress,” Barnier said.

The UK government will come up with position papers before the weekend, an official told EUobserver.

The EU has published nine position papers so far on key Brexit issues.

“We need to engage substantially in all the issues in the first phase of the negotiations,” Barnier said.

He added that what is at stake in the discussions on Monday is identifying points where the two sides agree and disagree.

He highlighted the issue of citizens’ rights, where there are substantial differences between the two sides - for instance, on reciprocity and on the European Court of Justice as the guarantor of those rights.

Earlier on Wednesday, the European Parliament’s Brexit point man, Guy Verhofstadt, also pointed out that the UK’s proposals on citizens’ rights is not enough.

The former Belgian prime minister told the EU parliament's committee on constitutional affairs: "It falls short in respecting the rights of EU nationals on family reunification, rights to participate in local elections," adding that it "creates second class citizenship for EU nationals.”

Verhofstadt also said the parliament will do its own assessment in October - before EU leaders decide on the matter - on whether enough progress has been made to move onto the second phase of talks.

Barnier will suggest to the leaders of member states to move onto discussing the future relations once he thinks “sufficient progress” has been made on the three key divorce issues.

However, the EU parliament’s consent is obligatory for any divorce agreement to be accepted by the EU side.

Barnier sets price for hard Brexit

The EU Brexit negotiator warned that a customs union between the UK and EU will not be possible if the UK doesn't want to respect single market rules, and "no deal" would send the UK back to "a distant past".

UK leaves fishing convention amid Brexit talks

The UK announced it would leave the London fisheries convention, which allows mutual fishing close to the coast, arguing that it is taking back control of its waters. But Brussels warns: Brexit talks will decide that.

UK to depart EU court and Euratom

UK position papers call for departure from EU court and nuclear treaty as officials prepare for second round of Brexit talks.

UK ideas on Ireland 'worry' EU negotiator

The UK cannot use relations with Ireland as a test case, warned Michel Barnier, as the EU published its own position on post-Brexit relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

EU warns London over undermining Brexit agreement

While a new internal market bill reported to "override" the legal force of the Brexit withdrawal agreement on critical issues, the UK government also set a surprise 15 October deadline to agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. EU money used by neo-Nazi to promote Holocaust denial
  2. Over 80% of Europe's habitats in poor or bad condition
  3. EU's Brexit move could end deadlock in talks
  4. EU's migrants more at risk from coronavirus
  5. Baltics pin hopes on Biden
  6. France marks trauma of history teacher's murder
  7. Spain's Sanchez in storm over judicial appointments bill
  8. Violating promises and law, von der Leyen tests patience

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us