Michel Barnier has mocked Boris Johnson for issuing a “third unilateral deadline” throughout a gathering with EU ministers, warning that the Brexit talks stay troublesome with little prospect but of the 2 sides coming into a decisive “tunnel” negotiation.
With 48 hours remaining earlier than an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, by which era the British prime minister has demanded a breakthrough second, the EU’s chief negotiator recommended a deal was “very troublesome however nonetheless potential”.
He famous that Johnson had twice beforehand recommended that the UK wanted the knowledge of a deal by a selected date, solely to later backtrack. “It’s the third unilateral deadline that Johnson has imposed with out settlement,” Barnier was mentioned to have remarked. “We nonetheless have time.”
Johnson had mentioned he wished a deal earlier than the tip of summer time, after which by the center of October, earlier than saying in latest weeks that a signal of a deal was all that was required.
The UK urgently needs to open a brief “tunnel” negotiation throughout which the 2 chief negotiators could be given the liberty by Downing Road and the EU member capitals to be inventive in fixing excellent issues on the idea that any end result could be subsequently backed.
However after listening to Barnier’s evaluation, diplomatic sources mentioned this closing part didn’t look like on the playing cards “by far”.
“The negotiations are in a troublesome part,” Barnier had advised the EU ministers in Luxembourg, in response to senior diplomatic sources. There was a extra “constructive tone”, Barnier mentioned, however “motion on three key points was nonetheless crucial”.
Discussions on the level-playing-field provisions, together with state subsidy management, had been persevering with however the UK was searching for to maintain the problem of EU entry to British fishing waters “on the desk to the final second to make sure it might command the very best worth for it”, he mentioned.
Barnier advised ministers it was vital to place the problem of entry to British waters in perspective. The UK was asking to in impact keep a part of the EU’s vitality single market, the financial worth of which was “5 occasions” that of fish, he mentioned.
There was additionally an absence of UK engagement on how the phrases of the commerce and safety deal could be policed, Barnier advised ministers, in response to sources.
He later tweeted: “The EU will proceed to work for a good deal within the coming days and weeks.”
Germany’s European affairs minister, Michael Roth, advised reporters earlier than the assembly that the EU was prepared for a no-deal end result.
“We’re nicely ready for each situations, everyone ought to know that,” he mentioned. “No deal is the worst-case state of affairs, not only for the European Union but in addition for the UK, however we’re ready for that.”
As particulars of Barnier’s sombre evaluation emerged, a UK authorities supply hit again.
“The EU have been utilizing the outdated playbook during which they thought operating down the clock would work in opposition to the UK,” the supply mentioned.
“They’ve assumed that the UK could be extra keen to compromise the longer the method ran, however the truth is all these techniques have achieved is to get us to the center of October with numerous work that would have been accomplished left undone.
“That is all of the extra irritating as a result of it’s clear that we now have come a great distance for the reason that starting of the 12 months. We have now approached the negotiations constructively and fairly however time is now terribly brief. We’d like the EU to urgently up the tempo and inject some creativity.”