- The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has said that Brexit will be an “educational process” for Britain.
- Michel Barnier said that the “extremely serious consequences” of leaving the single market need to be explained to the UK.
- The UK government has suggested that negotiations happen on a “continuous” basis in order to break the deadlock over key issues.
LONDON — The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has said that Brexit will be an “educational process” for the British public, who voted to leave the EU.
Michel Barnier told an economic conference in Italy: “There are extremely serious consequences of leaving the single market and it hasn’t been explained to the British people,” the BBC reported.
He said: “We intend to teach people … what leaving the single market means,” adding that “I have a state of mind: not aggressive … but I’m not naive.”
Barnier’s comments come after the latest Brexit negotiations ended in a stalemate. He said no “decisive progress” had been made in the third round of talks.
The EU’s chief negotiator also accused the UK of seeking the “impossible” in its approach to leaving the single market while retaining its benefits and that the single market “must not and will not be undermined by Brexit.”
Brexit secretary David Davis claimed that the negotiations had resulted in “some concrete progress” and said that talks had “exposed” the EU as being less “flexible and pragmatic” than Britain.
In his talk at the Ambrosetti forum, Barnier made it clear that the UK must honour the commitment in 2014 to pay 14% of the EU budget until 2020.
Davis made it clear that the UK did not feel it owed the EU all the money it has claimed, saying: “We have a very different legal stance [on the divorce bill], we have a duty to our taxpayers to interrogate it rigorously.”
On Sunday he denied reports that the government is prepared to agree to a fee of around £46 billion to facilitate the UK’s withdrawal, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the story was “nonsense… completely wrong.”
The Liberal Democrat’s Brexit spokesperson said that despite Barnier’s “unfortunate” wording, “Crashing out of Europe with a ‘no deal’ has the potential to inflict permanent damage on UK jobs and families. That is the hard reality of a hard Brexit.”
The government has suggested that talks are extended on a “continuous” week-by-week basis due to the deadlock over the divorce bill, according to Politico.
Two British officials said that a “very senior” member of the UK’s negotiating team suggested the possibility of “continuous negotiations,” which would see the British team staying in Brussels semi-permanently.
This follows Barnier’s telling reporters that the EU was prepared to “step up and intensify” Brexit talks.
He said: “Time is flying. It’s passing very quickly. If we need to, we on our side are prepared on behalf of the EU institutions to step up and intensify the rhythm of those negotiations.”
The negotiators need to have made “sufficient progress” by October on three key issues in order to be given a mandate by the European Council to move talks onto the future relationship.
The two sides need to find an agreement on the issues of citizens’ rights, the Northern Irish border, and Britain’s financial obligations for negotiations to progress.
The UK will attempt to speed up the process by publishing at least four more position papers in the next fortnight, on “internal security,” “external security,” “fair and open” trade and “science and innovation.”
Parliament returns tomorrow and will begin debating the EU (Withdrawal) Bill over two days, which could prove highly contentious.
The government will also publish three Brexit white papers, which are draft bills, which will hint at what the government wants from its future relationship with the EU.
One EU official told Politico: “We have said since July that we are ready to add negotiation rounds, but we need substance from the U.K. to further discussions and to be able to make progress.”
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