The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has warned that little progress has been made on the main issues in negotiations between the EU and UK since March.
“Mr Barnier informed us that since 23 March no significant progress has been made on the three pillars that we work on: withdrawal, future framework, and Ireland,” Ekaterina Zakharieva, the Bulgarian foreign minister chairing the council, told journalists at an official press conference following the meeting on May 14.
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 EU after Brexit, despite publishing two options in August of last year. Both those options were dismissed as “magical thinking” by the EU at the time.
Speaking at a separate event in Brussels on May 14 evening, Barnier himself said that full talks on the future relationship had not even started in earnest despite getting the green light at a summit in March.
“There is still a lot of uncertainty. Negotiations on the future with the UK have not started yet. We have had first exploratory discussions,” he said.
According to Zakharieva, “substantive progress” needs to be achieved on Ireland, governance, and all remaining separation issues by next month. “Our citizens and our businesses on both sides of the channel need more security and predictability for the future. As soon as possible they need clarity about what will happen when Brexit takes place.”
The EU has set October as the final deadline for a deal to be finalised.