Michel Barnier has sarcastically wished Brexiteers vying for a no-deal Brexit ‘good luck’ as he warned that a lack of compromise from the British side is bringing the UK close to crashing out of the EU.
Brussels’ chief negotiator said that he is ‘worried and disappointed’ after his counterpart in Downing Street, David Frost, did not make any concessions to end the impasse during informal talks.
The EU negotiator reiterated that a deal must be brokered by the ‘strict deadline’ of the end of next month in order to have it in place for the close of the transition period on December 31.
Have your say
Send your letters for publication to The New European by emailing email@example.com by Tuesday at 9am and pick up an edition each Thursday for more comment and analysis. Find your nearest stockist here, read the newspaper on our app, or subscribe to a print or digital edition for just £13. You can also join our readers' Facebook group to keep the discussion and debate going with thousands of fellow pro-Europeans.
‘We need a breakthrough, we need to move,’ Barnier said after a speech hosted by Dublin’s Institute of International and European Affairs think-tank.
‘If the UK wants a deal with us and a fair agreement for a zero-tariff, zero-quota access for British access to our market of 450 million consumers then they will have to move and it is their choice, it is their responsibility.
‘We are ready to make fair and constructive compromise but not at the detriment of the EU.’
Number 10 acknowledged ‘it is clear that it will not be easy to achieve’ a deal after Barnier and Frost met ahead of the eighth round of formal negotiations next week.
Barnier said: ‘We did not see any change in the position of the UK. This is why I express publicly that I am worried and I am disappointed because, frankly speaking, we have moved.
‘I’ve shown clearly openness to find compromise.
‘If they don’t move on the issues which are the key issues of the EU, the level playing field, fisheries and governance, the UK will take itself the risk of a no-deal.’
Barnier said the EU will not accept the livelihoods of fishermen and women being ‘used as a bargaining chip in these negotiations’.
And he said ‘good luck, good luck’ to those who say leaving without a trade deal has opportunities.
‘Frankly speaking, there is no reason to under-estimate the consequences for many people, many sectors, of a no-deal – it will be a huge difference between a deal and a no-deal,’ he added.
Barnier also ‘warmly’ thanked Phil Hogan, the Irish politician who resigned as EU trade commissioner after intense scrutiny over whether he broke coronavirus regulations.
He said: ‘I will miss Phil Hogan, on whom I could always count to relay any Irish concerns to me very directly over the last four years.’
New Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has laid the blame firmly at Boris Johnson’s door.
‘It wasn’t long ago that Boris Johnson asserted that he wanted a Brexit deal by the end of July. Now even he must realise the pig’s breakfast he has made of these talks,’ he said.