Michel Barnier dismissed Britain’s raft of Brexit policy papers today as he demanded serious talks on the divorce with the EU.
In a clear sign of the impasse which is leaving the negotiations deadlocked, Mr Barnier warned he was ‘concerned’ about the failure to make progress.
Brexit Secretary David Davis arrived in Brussels today prepared to deliver a hard-hitting message about what Britain sees as needless delays provoked by the EU’s insistence on a two-phase negotiation.
The Government is furious at Mr Barnier’s demand for agreement on Britain’s exit bill, the Irish border and citizens rights before discussing anything else.
Michel Barnier (pictured today with David Davis in Brussels) dismissed Britain’s raft of Brexit policy papers today as he demanded serious talks on the divorce with the EU
Brexit Secretary David Davis arrived in Brussels today (pictured) prepared to deliver a hard-hitting message about what Britain sees as needless delays
In defiance of the Brussels position, Britain has published a raft of policy papers on issues from the European Court to customs controls in recent weeks.
Mr Barnier said he had read the papers but standing alongside Mr Davis today he warned: ‘To be honest I’m concerned as time passes quickly.
‘I welcome the UK Government papers and we have read them very carefully. But we need UK positions on all separation issues.
‘This is necessary to make sufficient progress. We must start negotiating seriously.
‘The EU27 and the European Parliament stand united. They will not accept that separation issues are not addressed properly.’
The EU chief negotiator said he wanted to ‘intensify negotiations’ amid fears a deadline of October to resolve the divorce will be missed.
For Britain’s side, Mr Davis insisted he was determined to make progress on all issues at this week’s talks as he underlined the British demand for work on a broad settlement.
The Brexit Secretary said the raft of policy papers were the result of ‘hard work and detailed thinking’ and said he hoped for a week of ‘constructive’ talks.
He said: ‘For the UK, the week is about driving forward technical discussions across all the issues – all the issues.
‘We are ready to roll up our sleeves and get down to work again once more. Let’s do it.’
The Brexit Secretary urged Mr Barnier to demonstrate ‘flexibility and imagination’ in his approach as he reiterated Britain’s belief the future trading arrangement must be considered alongside the divorce deal.
The Brexit Secretary will return to London tonight after the initial meeting. Officials then takeover before a crunch meeting on Thursday.
Despite the impasse, both Mr Barnier and Mr Davis still appeared to be on good personal terms as they met in Brussels today
Ahead of today’s talks, German business leaders have issued a plea to the European Union to begin work on a trade deal with Britain as they enter the next round of Brexit negotiations in Brussels today.
The EU has repeatedly said talks on a trade agreement cannot begin until ‘sufficient progress’ is made on the divorce bill, the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and Northern Ireland.
Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said: ‘As Brexit talks continue, it’s clear that companies in the UK and on the continent all want economic issues to rise to the top of the negotiations agenda
But last night they were under increasing pressure to compromise as the influential Association of German Chambers of Commerce (DIHK) warned it was important for businesses on both sides of the Channel for them to start looking at the future arrangements.
In a joint intervention with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the group warned that trade would suffer without clarity.
Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said: ‘As Brexit talks continue, it’s clear that companies in the UK and on the continent all want economic issues to rise to the top of the negotiations agenda.
‘There is real business appetite from both sides for a focus on practical, day-to-day business concerns, and a desire for clarity on future trading arrangements.
‘The UK and the EU must begin work on transitional arrangements, particularly on customs, so that firms on both sides of the Channel have the confidence to make investment decisions.
‘Chambers of commerce in the UK and in Germany want to see thriving trade continue between our firms, both now and into the future. Politicians must do everything in their power to help this happen.’
Martin Wansleben, chief executive of the DIHK, said: ‘The first effects of the Brexit vote are already being observed: German exports to the United Kingdom were down by three per cent in the first half of this year compared to the first half of last year.
‘A transitional period would be helpful for business, but it is important to businesses on both sides that the contours of a future trading relationship are becoming clearer over the next months.’
Brexit Secretary David Davis will today say: ‘We want to agree a deal that works in the best interests of both the EU and the UK, and people and businesses right across Europe’
This week’s round of negotiations will concentrate on the rights of EU citizens living in Britain after Brexit and Britons in the EU, as the two sides are in a deadlock over the divorce bill.
Ahead of the talks, Mr Barnier warned that Britain must be ready to set out what it is willing to pay today.
But Mr Davis will snub his request and refuse further discussions on the demand, which is thought to be for around 80 billion euros (£74billion), until they show the legal justification for their claim.