(Given the recent Brexit developments, including the European Council summit and Theresa May’s Brussels dinner, I thought to share a summary of the last Brexit talks’ presser.)
Speaking after four days of negotiations, the Chief Negotiator for the EU, Michel Barnier, said the EU and the UK are in “deadlock” over the UK’s financial commitments, but progress could be made by Christmas.
Mr Barnier said the EU and the UK share the same objectives: protecting rights of EU citizens, safeguarding the peace process in Northern Ireland and getting a financial settlement.
Regarding citizens’ rights, he said there were two common aims: ensuring the withdrawal agreement has direct effect, and ensuring the interpretation of these rights is “consistent” between the EU and the UK. Both sides were working on this, and it would involve the European Court of Justice.
On the issue of the island of Ireland, Mr Barnier said the EU and the UK reached an agreement on the Common Travel Area (CTA). “Intensive work” had been taken on the Irish question, with more work to come. Both sides were examining North/South co-operation.
Mr Barnier said that on the issue of the UK’s financial commitments, both sides had reached “deadlock” which he described as “very disturbing”. With the UK still not ready to outline its commitments, he added this meant not enough progress had been made in the negotiations. Concluding his remarks, Mr Barnier said with political will, “decisive progress is within our grasp over the next two months”.
Following the EU’s Chief Negotiator, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis, said whilst there was still a lot of work to do, they have come a long way.
On citizens’ rights, they focused on ensuring how rights could be guaranteed in a fair way. The UK and the EU had not yet reached an agreement on how to enforce these rights, but various options were being examined and both sides were confident a deal would be reached.
Mr Davis said that with regards to the Irish question, more work was required but further progress had been made. Both sides have agreed to start working on common undertakings to protect the Good Friday agreement.
On the financial settlement, Mr Davis said that would be a “political issue”. Concluding his remarks, he stressed that both sides must discuss the future relationship, and expressed a hope that the European Council will allow Mr Barnier to let talks progress to discussing a future trade relationship.
Further talks over the next two months have been agreed.