EU talks stalling over Brexit divorce bill and UK govt’s lack of “clarity”

The UK and EU have still not found common ground over Britain’s Brexit divorce bill and citizens’ rights, as the second week of negotiations come to a close.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK has been unclear about where it stands and was impeding progress.

UK Brexit secretary David Davis said talks over the divorce bill had been “robust” and called for “flexibility” from both sides.

At a joint press conference, Barnier said: “We require this clarification on the financial settlement, on citizens’ rights, on Ireland – with the two key points of the common travel area and the Good Friday Agreement – and the other separation issues where this week’s experience has quite simply shown we make better progress where our respective positions are clear.”

Banier said there is disagreement between the two sides on whether citizen’s rights would be overseen by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after Brexit.

Theresa May has insisted the UK will leave the jurisdiction of the ECJ, even though doing so means Britain cannot be a member of the single market.

Banier also called for clarity on Britain’s divorce bill – estimated to be between £10bn and £60bn – saying: “I know one has to compromise in negotiations but we are not there yet.

“When I say, and I think I was very clear and transparent about that, that there are things that are inseparable from others. That’s the financial settlement.

“Let’s be very clear. We want clarity on that because we need to be able work more until we come to areas of compromise.”

Davis said: “We both recognise the importance of sorting out the obligations we have to one another, both legally and in a spirit of mutual cooperation.”

Davis also repeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” threat, saying the UK could “make it work” if it had to say no to a “punishment” EU deal.

He added: “Nobody expects a punishment deal. Michel and I are going for a good deal.”

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the “lack of progress” on citizens’ rights is “deeply concerning” and will be a source of “anxiety for millions of families”.

He said there are doubts over whether the second phase of the talks, which concern trade and can only be started once deal on rights, finances and the Northern Ireland border are struck, will be able to begin in October.

He said: “The reality is that we have a government that is unprepared, divided and incapable of securing a good deal for Britain. We urgently need a fresh approach.”

Brexit briefing: Weekly news roundup

16 February 2018

Unite Brexit Check’s weekly news briefing on the UK’s exit from the EU. Check back every Friday for an overview of the week’s Brexit-related political, industrial...