The European Union needs to be “more realistic about the UK’s status as an independent country” in talks over its future relationship with Europe, according to Britain’s Brexit negotiator, David Frost.
Frost was speaking in a statement released by 10 Downing Street ahead of talks between Frost and Barnier on Tuesday.
“I will sit down with Michel Barnier and drive home our clear message that we must make progress this week if we are to reach an agreement in time,” he said.
“We have now been talking for six months and can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground. We need to see more realism from the EU about our status as an independent country.”
Frost said the UK had listened carefully to the UK and proved itself flexible in negotiations, and if the EU could not move forward then Britain was preparing for a no-deal exit when the transition period ends on December 31.
“If they can’t do that in the very limited time we have left, then we will be trading on terms like those the EU has with Australia, and we are ramping up our preparations for the end of the year.
‘Level playing field’
Meanwhile, the German government said Monday a Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union was still possible and that it’s in the interest of both sides to secure one.
“Britain in particular needs to move on the core issues of governance, what’s summed up as ‘level playing field,’ and on the issue of fisheries,” said German government spokesman Steffen Seibert during a news conference in Berlin.
“The German government continues to be convinced that it’s still possible and also that it’s in the interest of both sides to reach such an agreement (on Brexit), but of course one needs to reach an agreement with the United Kingdom as quickly as possible.”
During the transition period, the UK remains within the EU’s economic orbit, benefiting from frictionless and tariff-free trade.
If the UK walks away from the talks, the two sides would be heading toward a no-deal outcome that would see tariffs and other impediments to trade imposed at the start of next year.
The EU’s chief negotiator in the talks, Michel Barnier, said Monday that he will be seeking clarification from David Frost, his counterpart in the UK, on Tuesday “to better understand the government’s intentions.”
“We support Mr Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, who is conducting the negotiations on behalf of all 27 (EU member states), in his efforts to achieve an agreement in the short time available,” Seibert said.
Also on Monday, the EU warned the United Kingdom that any attempt to row back on its Brexit commitments could jeopardise a future trade agreement and put at risk hard-won peace on the island of Ireland.
It followed reports that Boris Johnson’s government is planning to introduce domestic legislation that would override provisions concerning Northern Ireland contained in the legally-binding divorce deal, which set out the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU last January.
The British Prime Minister has also threatened to pull the UK out of talks on the future relationship — which resume this week — unless a deal is struck by mid-October. A transition period keeping most current arrangements in place expires on December 31.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet that implementing the Withdrawal Agreement was “an obligation under international law and a prerequisite for any future partnership”.