Michel Barnier says he is 'concerned' by Brexit progress in fresh swipe at UK approach

Posted On: 
28th August 2017

Michel Barnier has said he is "concerned" at the slow progress of the Brexit negotiations as he accused the UK government of failing to make clear what it wants from the talks.

David Davis and Michel Barnier are at odds over the Brexit talks.
Credit: 
PA Images

The EU's top negotiator said there was "ambiguity" about the British position, despite ministers publishing a raft of policy papers in the past fortnight.

And he warned that time was running out to strike a satisfactory deal, with the UK set to officially leave the bloc on 31 March, 2019.

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Mr Barnier's made his remarks as David Davis arrived in Brussels to kick-start the latest round of Brexit negotiations.

Mr Davis called on the EU to show "flexibility and imagination" in the discussions and said the British delegation were ready to "roll up our sleeves" and make progress.

But in a clear swipe, Mr Barnier said: "To be honest I am concerned. Time passes quickly. I welcome the UK government's papers, and we have read them very carefully, very carefully.

"But we need UK positions on all separation issues. This is necessary to make sufficient progress.

"We need UK papers that are clear in order to have constructive negotiations and the sooner we remove the ambiguity, the sooner we will be in a position to discuss the future relationship and the transitional period."

Both sides are at odds over the timetable of the talks, with the UK eager to move on to what Britain's future trading relationship with the EU will look like.

However, Brussels insists that major progress must be made on the size of the UK's Brexit divorce bill, the Irish border and citizens' rights.