Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

EU's Barnier: No big progress on Brexit since March

EU's Barnier: No big progress on Brexit since March

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, yesterday told ministers from the remaining 27 member states that "little progress" had been made on the issues of Ireland and governance since the council last met in March.

European Union leaders agreed at the March summit on a post-Brexit transition period lasting until the end of 2020, during which Britain will remain in the EU's common market in exchange for following European Union rules without any voting rights.

"October is only five months from now and still some key issues related to the withdrawal agreement need to be settled". Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva of Bulgaria, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, told reporters after the meeting of European affairs ministers: "We look forward to more a intensive engagement by the United Kingdom government in the coming weeks". "We have had first exploratory discussions", he said.

The deal could include regular British-EU foreign policy talks, cooperation on military and aid missions, cooperation on defence projects and intelligence sharing, Barnier said. "The clock is ticking", German EU Minister Michael Roth told his EU peers meeting in Brussels.

"We are concerned about the lack of a clear approach, a clear position from the British".

"We need now to be making substantial progress, but that is not happening".

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As reported by the Independent, the renewed deadlock in Brussels comes as Theresa May's cabinet repeatedly fails to agree with itself on what customs arrangement it wants with the European Union after Brexit, despite publishing two options in August of a year ago.

Under a customs partnership, the United Kingdom would collect tariffs for Brussels.

Barnier later said that there had been "a little, not very little progress" but warned that more was urgently needed.

While both sides want to continue close cooperation on internal security and foreign policy after Brexit, even this area, previously seen as an easy part of the unprecedented divorce negotiations, has seen a series of recent hiccups.

The EU says Britain must agree to a workable solution to the question of how to avoid a hard border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland by the June 28-29 summit.

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