European Union negotiator Michel Barnier rejects open-ended Brexit transition

February 27, 2018 5:10 am
Chief Negotiator in charge of negotiations Michel Barnier speaks during a joint press conference at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 27, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
European Union negotiator Michel Barnier warned Britain Tuesday that it could not have an open-ended post-Brexit transition and that a deal on the phase remained out of reach.
Barnier added ahead of a key speech by Prime Minister on future trade relations that Britain’s plans for partial access to the single market were “cherry picking”.
“There are quite a lot of points of disagreement. I regret, but maintain the evaluation I made a few weeks ago: in the light of these disagreements, we have not achieved the transition yet,” Barnier told a press conference after briefing EU ministers.
Britain hopes to agree by an EU summit at the end of next month on a transition period during which it will still follow EU laws in exchange for access to the single market.
The EU says it should last until the end of 2020, when its current multi-year budget runs out. But Britain says it should be “about two years”, while a recent government paper said the date should reflect the time needed for both sides to strike a deal on future trade ties.
Officials attend a lunch during an informal meeting of the 27 EU heads of state or government in Brussels, Belgium, February 23, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Barnier, who will unveil the EU’s draft of its Brexit divorce agreement on Wednesday, said that Britain “it seems would like to keep an open-ended transition, which of course is not possible.”
“I think it’s got to be clear that the transition period must be short,” Barnier added.
The former French minister added that he was open to discuss matters “straightaway” with British counterpart David Davis.
Barnier said deep divisions also remained on citizens rights for EU migrants moving to Britain during the proposed 21-month transition as well as the ’s ability to object to new laws passed during the phase.
Barnier also said he stood by comments by EU President Donald Tusk on Friday in which he dismissed plans for post-Brexit relations devised by the British government as “based on pure illusion”.
“The answer is yes. I agree with the president of the European Council,” Barnier said.
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