Negotiations on Brexit have postponed over the divorce bill and the European Union is rejecting the request of Theresa May for discussions to move onto discussions regarding a transition period.
The European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Brexit Secretary David Davis had a clash during Monday’s press conference after the first day of the round four of the Brexit talks.
Davis said that there would be “no excuses” for hindering progress this week.
Barnier said, on the other hand, that the offer of the prime minister of a €20 billion divorce bill did not determine that negotiators could start to discuss transition arrangements or Britain’s future.
“It remains more necessary than ever to create the trust that we need to set up and build upon our future relationship,” said the EU’s chief negotiator.
He made it apparent that his mandate only included divorce issues and “sufficient progress” that must be made on citizens’ rights, Ireland and the financial settlement before discussions could move on.
PM May and the government had hoped that the “generous offer” of €20 billion that was made during the Florence speech of the prime minister, would pave the way for Brexit talks to advance.
Davis informed Barnier that there “could be no excuses of standing in the way” of progress this week and that it was “obvious” that the divorce bill could only be arranged alongside the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
The stance of the European Union will anger Brexit supporters in the government, including Boris Johnson, who believe that the European Union is intentionally making it hard for the United Kingdom in negotiations.
Ireland puts pressure on Britain
The Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, during a visit to Downing Street, added to the pressure for the British side to extend more on the principal separation issues before discussions on a future relationship are allowed.
Varadkar stated: “I don’t think at this stage it would be possible to say that sufficient progress has been made, but it may well be possible by the end of October when we meet up in Brussels.”
The European Council that is made up of the EU27 member states will determine whether “sufficient progress” has been achieved in Brexit negotiations in order to give Barnier an order to allow discussions to advance.
Barnier, following a meeting with the European Council ministers, stated: “A discussion that is going to take place because the UK is asking for it on this transitional period does not mean we will no longer need to achieve sufficient progress.
“We are not going to mix up discussions on debts and discussion on the past commitments. We are not going to mix up those subjects, which are part of an orderly withdrawal, on a discussion of our future relationship.”
“No excuses” for no progress
Davis said that he hoped that the negotiators would build on the prime minister’s speech last week and that the United Kingdom is “absolutely committed to working through the detail.”
Daivs continued: “We are laying out concrete proposals, and there are no excuses for standing in the way of progress … It will take pragmatism from both sides to make headway, and I hope we can achieve that this week.”
The two disagreed regarding the nature of the transition period after Davis insisted that Britain would not have to persist under European Union law immediately after the Brexit.
Barnier stated: “The EU has to decide whether to have a transitional period and whether it is in its interest. Any transition has to respect the regulatory and financial framework of the single market.
“As we said, we are talking about prolonging and extending EU legislation for a certain amount of time. That would mean we would have to continue with [such] things as the budget, supervision, judicial control and controls of EU rules and regulations. So that would have to continue to apply.”
Cabinet ministers have disagreed in recent weeks regarding the nature of transition, with the foreign secretary, Johnson, declaring that no new European Union laws or regulations should be executed during the period, while Chancellor Philip Hammond said that it might need to last more than two years.