Sunday

29th May 2022

'We are not there yet', Barnier tells UK

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Wednesday (29 November) work is still ongoing to reach a deal with the UK this week on all three key divorce issues, after reports the UK and EU negotiators reached a broad outline deal on the financial bill.

A possible agreement on the overall divorce bill – that still needs to be agreed by member states' representatives – would overcome one of the key hurdles in the Brexit talks, the 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 Financial Times reported that the UK agreed to assume EU liabilities worth up to €100 billion - but spread over many decades, the net amount could be much lower.

Speaking in Berlin at a conference Barnier dismissed the reports.

"There is a subject on which we are continuing to work — despite the claims or rumours in the press today, that's the issue of financial engagements," Barnier was quoted by AFP.

The UK has been reluctant for months to give details on what it is willing to pay from previous commitments.

In September, British prime minister Theresa May said in a speech in Florence that EU countries would not have to pay more or receive less to the EU budget after the UK leaves the bloc, and that the UK would honour its previous commitments.

However, she has not clarified what that would cover.

The EU wanted the UK to clarify payment commitments on issues such as the Turkey Fund, the European Development Fund, loans and pension payments.

Negotiators have not focused on numbers, but on what the UK is willing to pay, and EU officials told their UK counterparts the bloc is willing to help London present the estimates, to save May from political backlash by hardline Brexiteers.

Another remaining outstanding issue is the Irish border in negotiations.

Ireland and the EU wants the UK to spell out how it would avoid the establishment of border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit when it becomes the EU's new external border.

Ireland urged the UK to keep the same rules in Northern Ireland after Brexit, in order to avoid a hard border.

"We re not there yet," Michel Barnier told an audience in Berlin, at a security conference.

"The work on the three main subjects continues this week in a constructive spirit with the UK," he added.

The UK has until Monday (4 December) to come forward with a proposal on Ireland.

On Monday European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will host British prime minister Theresa May for lunch.

She is expected to present the UK's offer on all three key divorce issues, including citizens' rights.

A tentatively planned meeting between Barnier and UK Brexit minister David Davishas now been scrapped.

Barnier reiterated on Wednesday that if "real" sufficient progress is made on the three key issues, EU leaders at their December summit will be able to open discussions on a possible transition period and future relations with the UK.

EU countries in 2018 will define the framework of the new partnership with the UK, Barnier added.

UK has 10 days to make Brexit progress

British prime minister Theresa May was told to make progress on the financial settlement, and Ireland, before talks can move to the next phase.

Irish crisis may complicate Brexit summit

Snap elections are on the horizon in Ireland over the future of Irish PM's right-hand woman, three weeks before Irish PM is due in Brussels for a crucial Brexit vote.

Interview

Irish border 'crucial' for EU, says Dutch PM

Irish border will be key element in the decision on second phase of Brexit talks, but EU leaders will follow assessment of chief negotiator Barnier.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us