The EU’s chief negotiator has again warned the UK government it is attempting to ‘cherry pick’ the benefits of staying in the EU while wanting to leave the bloc.
Michel Barnier explained: ‘Sometimes I hear people in the UK public debate say the EU has unreasonable positions but they’re only unreasonable for those who refuse to accept that Brexit has negative consequences.’
He said that the UK was trying to seek a relationship that was very close to the EU without paying in as a member, and said that it was unacceptable to the bloc.
‘Britain is demanding a lot more from the EU than Canada, Japan or other partners’, he told an audience in Brussels. ‘We cannot and we will not allow this cherry picking’.
He continued: ‘During the past negotiating round UK must have taken note of the EU’s willingness to search for compromises. What we now need to make progress are clear and concrete signals the UK too is open to work on an agreement.’
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In response to Boris Johnson’s suggestion that he wants to ‘fix’ his Brexit deal, he added: ‘There’s no need to change or adjust the EU mandate.
‘We can find the necessary compromises on the condition that the UK changes its approach and accepts appropriate balance of rights, benefits, obligations, and legally binding constraints based on the respect of the agreed Political Declaration.’
He added: ‘I hope the high-level discussions with prime minister Johnson will provide a new political impetus to our talks. With determination on both sides and preparation for the business community, I’m convinced we can overcome the difficulties and build an unprecedented partnership.’
The EU official also, for the first time, has said that the European Union is now supporting an extension after suggesting they would be open to one.
He explained: ‘We are in favour of an extension, particularly given the current circumstances.’