EU chief diplomat Michel Barnier 'concerned' over Brexit talks and tells Britain to 'start negotiating seriously'

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The EU’s top negotiator has said he is “concerned” over Britain’s slow approach to Brexit and said the UK needs to be clearer on what it wants.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels ahead of the start of round three of exit talks, chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the European Union needs the Britain’s positions on all issues and criticised “ambiguity” from the UK side.

“To be honest I am concerned,” said Mr Barnier, who is David Davis’ counterpart in the divorce negotiations.

“Time passes quickly. I welcome the UK government’s papers, and we have read them very carefully, very carefully.

“We need you to take positions on all separation issues. This is necessary to make sufficient progress. We must start negotiating seriously.

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier speaks with David Davis before the meeting on Monday. (AP)

“We need UK papers that are clear in order to have constructive negotiations and the sooner we remove the ambiguity, the sooner we will be in a position to discuss the future relationship and the transitional period.

“The EU 27 and the European Parliament stand united, the will not accept that the separation issues are not expected properly. I am ready to intensify negotiations over the coming weeks in order to advance.”

Mr Barnier noted the lack of progress in the talks nearly five months after the two-year negotiating period began in March.

So far the negotiations have made little headway after the snap election earlier this year.

As things stand, it is not known what relationship Britain will share with the other 27 countries of the EU past the Brexit date of March 2019.

In his speech at the conference, David Davis said the four days of Brexit negotiations this week will have to drive forward “all the issues” instead of just centering on the divorce proceedings that the EU wants to focus on. 

Britain wants to determine a future trade relationship with the bloc in lockstep with obtaining an orderly separation from it. The EU, however, wants to have “sufficient progress” on a clear divorce first with Britain before looking at a future relationship. 

Davis says “we want to lock in the points where we agree, unpick the areas where we disagree, and make further progress on the whole range of issues.” He says the goal remains the same, a deal in the best interests of both sides and business in the UK and Europe. 


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