The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has expressed frustration after the latest round of negotiations with the UK government, saying an agreement seems unlikely.
“I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time,” Michel Barnier (pictured) said after the seventh round of talks in Brussels. “Too often this week, it felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards.”
His UK counterpart David Frost also said there had been little progress.
Mr Barnier said the need for a ‘level playing field’ was “a non-negotiable pre-condition” to grant the UK access to the EU market of 450 million citizens, adding that no international agreement was ever reached without the parties agreeing to common rules.
He said there had been some progress on technical issues, but none on key areas such as fisheries.
Mr Barnier added that the two sides were still “far from agreeing” on the issue of how to settle disputes, and were struggling to agree on guarantees to protect citizens' fundamental rights and personal data.
But Mr Frost said the EU’s stance on some issues was making it “unnecessarily difficult” to make progress.
“The EU is still insisting not only that we must accept continuity with EU state aid and fisheries policy, but also that this must be agreed before any further substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts,” he said.