The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has said talks with the UK over its exit bill have hit a “deadlock” and he will not tell EU leaders that “sufficient progress” has been made to accelerate talks from divorce to trade negotiations.
Speaking at the conclusion of the fifth round of formal Brexit talks, Michel Barnier said the question of the financial settlement were confined to “technical” discussions this week rather than the bigger issue of what commitments the UK would pay for.
“We’ve reached a state of deadlock which is very disturbing. We are not asking the UK to make concessions”, said Mr Barnier. “With political will, decisive progress is within our grasp within the next two months”, he said.
“With the necessary will and on the basis of the commitments entered into by Theresa May we can get out of this deadlock”, added Mr Barnier.
David Davis, the UK’s Brexit secretary, said the technical talks over the bill were “rigorous” and designed ensure a political agreement over the settlement can be reached later on.
When asked about the possibility of a “no deal”, Mr Davis said the UK was aiming for an agreement but the “government has to be ready for the alternatives. The UK is planning for all outcomes…however improbable. Wherever money needs to be spent it will be spent.”
Mr Barnier said a “no deal would be a very bad deal” for Britain.
EU leaders, including prime minister Theresa May, will meet for a key leaders summit in Brussels next week. Although hopes that “sufficient progress” will be achieved by next week have been dashed, Donald Tusk, EU council president, has touted December as a likely point where European leaders will ask Mr Barnier to move talks to the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
One official involved in the Brexit talks told the FT the week’s negotiations had made “zero progress”.