‘No excuses’ for holding up progress in Brexit talks, says David Davis
But, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier insists progress on the divorce bill, citizens’ rights and the Irish border was necessary first.
David Davis has insisted there are “no excuses” for standing in the way of progress over Britain’s exit from the European Union as the fourth round of talks resumed in Brussels.
The Brexit Secretary said Theresa May’s speech in Florence on the strategy for quitting the bloc had set out concrete proposals and a breakthrough was now needed.
But the EU’s chief negotiator insisted real progress on the divorce bill, citizens’ rights and the Irish border was “essential” to move on the discussions.
Michel Barnier said he was “keen and eager” to understand how the Prime Minister’s speech would be turned into a negotiating strategy.
“We do not need to remind ourseves that we are six months into the process. We are getting closer to the UK’s withdrawal and I think that this moment should be a moment of clarity.”
Mr Davis said the latest citizens’ rights would be incorporated fully into UK law, progress had been made on resolving the Irish border and insisted the UK would “honour commitments” made during its EU membership.
“The UK is absolutely committed to work through the detail. We are laying out concrete proposals and there are no excuses for standing in the way of progress,” he said.
“It will take pragmatism on both sides to make headway and I hope we can achieve that this week.”
After a meeting earlier of the European Parliament Brexit steering group, Mr Barnier insisted Britain must defer to European courts during any Brexit transition period.
He said: “If the UK is asking for a transitional period, well it’s the UK asking for it. We are not asking for it.
“If the idea is that during this period they will still participate in the single market and the customs union and the policies of the single market then it is quite clear that all European regulations, enforcement, financial conditions, supervision, all of that has to be maintained during the self-same period without any exceptions.”
The Prime Minister offered to continue paying into EU coffers during a two-year transition after Britain leaves in 2019 to ensure the bloc is not left with a budget black hole when she made her speech on Friday.
Under her plans, EU nationals will be free to settle in the UK during the transition period while the rights of those living in the country would be written into British law.
Britain and the EU would continue to enjoy the same access to each other’s markets while the Prime Minister also held out the prospect of a comprehensive new treaty on future security co-operation.
Mr Davis confirmed the UK would pay in “roughly” £10 billion a year during the transition – although he played down claims that the final “divorce bill” once pensions and other liabilities were taken into account could be £40 billion.