Michel Barnier Slams UK for 'Backtracking' on Political Promises During Brexit Negotiations
14:59 GMT 05.06.2020(updated 16:08 GMT 05.06.2020)
Negotiations over the United Kingdom's future relationship with the European Union are ongoing but have come to a deadlock as the two sides fail to agree on key issues. Until the end of this year, the UK remains subject to EU laws despite having formally left the bloc in January.
The EU's chief negotiator has accused the British government of "backtracking" on previous pledges it made in order to finalise a deal with the bloc.
Michel Barnier said on Friday following virtual negotiations that "no progress" been made in post-Brexit trade talks a full four months following the UK's formal withdrawal from the EU in January.
Barnier slammed the UK for continually looking "to distance themselves" from the political declaration which had been agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2019.
Mr Barnier said "the door is still open" for the UK to request an extension to the ongoing transition period, which is scheduled to end on 31 December.
Despite Johnson's refusal to consider the extension option, seeking one before the June deadline could give both sides time to come to an arrangement.
"My responsibility is to speak the truth and to tell the truth this week there have been no significant areas of progress", the EU negotiator said to a Brussels press conference.
"All we are asking for is the political declaration to be complied with", he added.
Over sovereign access to fishing territory - a key issue in the Brexit debate - Barnier said that the UK has "not shown any true will" to seek compromises. He also said the two sides were "very far" from coming to an agreement regarding the regulatory level playing field, nuclear safety, anti-money laundering, and counter-terrorism.
There has also been no "overarching institutional framework" over the future relationship, Mr Barnier said.
His UK counterpart, David Frost, said that "limited" progress had made, and acknowledged that both sides are reaching the limits of any substantive achievements during the formal rounds of talks in the run-up to a potentially decisive high-level summit later in June.
"If we are to make progress, it is clear that we must intensify and accelerate our work", Mr Frost said.
"We are discussing with the commission how this can best be done. For our part we are willing to work hard to see whether at least the outline of a balanced agreement, covering all issues, can be reached soon".
Negotiations have been held virtually due to social distancing measures introduced amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Business confidence is becoming increasingly shaky as the future economic relationship between the UK and the EU remains uncertain amid the added negative economic impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
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