‘Deadlock’: Barnier’s Refusal to Move Talks on Increases Chance of No Deal, Full Brexit


Speaking at a joint press conference with Britain’s David Davis in Brussels, EU head Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has made clear he is still not willing to do any negotiation, saying the situation was a “deadlock”.

Talks are now in their fifth round, and have yet to show any progress as the European Union doggedly refuses to undertake any discussion over how the future of Britain’s relationship with the bloc will look until the departing nation agrees to pay a significant Brexit bill — which could be upwards of £50 billion.

Echoing comments made by EU president Donald Tusk when he humiliated British Prime Minister Theresa May by chiding her whilst standing outside 10 Downing Street a fortnight ago, Barnier said not enough progress had been made. Making clear there would be no more discussion until Britain agreed to open her coffers to the EU, Barnier complained there was a state of “deadlock” and that he found that “very disturbing”.

Implying he expecting Britain to cave and pay up shortly, Barnier remarked that he believed “decisive progress is within our grasp over the next two months”.

It has now been nearly 17 months since Britain voted to leave the EU, yet the work to actually build a new relationship with the bloc has hardly started. The British government delayed triggering Article 50 — the mechanism that starts the process of withdrawal in European law — until March 2015, before which the EU refused to begin any talks with Britain.

Now Article 50 is in force and such talks have started, there has been no progress after European negotiators insisted there could not be any progress unless Britain agreed to pay out a significant sum of money and to continue paying for European projects in the coming years. This idea has been controversial in Britain, where paying out significant sums to the Union is perceived as contrary to the spirit of the Brexit vote.

Despite Barnier’s insistence that both parties in the negotiations have shared goals — which he said includes protecting the rights of European citizens and getting a financial deal — his continued refusal to get past attempts to demand money may actually push Britain closer to the possibility of a no-deal withdrawal.

Alternatively called a hard, clean, or full Brexit — this option would see the Britain immediately and unilaterally withdraw from the Union, leaving behind the rules and obligations of the bloc, and defaulting to World Trade Organization rules for imports and exports.

Whilst key Remain supporters within the government and elsewhere have worked diligently to prevent this from happening, it remains popular with Eurosceptics who see it as the only true way to escape the EU.

The British government has now admitted it is making plans to walk away with no deal, as confirmed by International Trade Secretary last week, and later confirmed by the prime minister.

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