October 18, 2017

Michael Barnier warns ‘several months’ before Brexit talks progress

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has warned it could be “several months” before talks move on to discussions about trade.

Michel Barnier hailed a “new dynamic” to negotiations following Theresa May’s speech in Florence last week.

But, speaking in Brussels following the latest round of Brexit negotiations, the European Commission official told Brexit Secretary David Davis there is yet to be “sufficient progress” on key withdrawal issues.

“We will need several weeks, even several months, to be able to see ‘sufficient progress’ on the principles of this orderly departure,” Mr Barnier said.

The remaining 27 EU member states have demanded “sufficient progress” be reached on three issues – Britain’s possible exit payment, the Northern Ireland border and EU citizens’ rights – before negotiations can turn to discussions on a future UK-EU trading relationship.

Mrs May had hoped to breach an impasse on Brexit with her Florence speech, in which she made a commitment on filling an EU budget blackhole and offered new guarantees for EU nationals in the UK.

However, despite praising a “constructive week” for Brexit talks as well as the Prime Minister’s intervention, Mr Barnier signalled he will not yet be recommending EU leaders advance negotiations to their next phase.

He said: “We managed to create clarity on some points. On others, however, more work remains to be done and we are not there yet.”

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