EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has lambasted the UK for imposing a “short” deadline for trade talks and then refusing to “budge” on key issues.
Speaking at a Brussels news conference following the conclusion of the second round of negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship, Mr Barnier listed areas where there had been “disappointing” progress.
Without an extenstion to the Brexit transition period, during which the UK is continuing with the status quo of EU membership, both sides have until the end of this year to strike a trade deal.
If an agreement is not reached, tariffs and quotas could be imposed on goods travelling between the EU and UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so far resisted pressure to extend the transition period beyond the end of December, despite calls for him to do so amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After outlining those areas where little progress had been achieved in the latest round of talks, Mr Barnier said: “It’s exceptional, never in the history for such important negotiations with any third country, have we been under such time pressure.
“The UK, therefore, cannot impose this short, brief timeline and at the same time not budge, make progress, on some topics that are of importance to the EU.”
The next negotiating rounds are scheduled for 11 May and 1 June.
The terms of the UK’s withdrawal agreement from the EU, which was ratified in January, allow an extension of up to two years to the transition period.
However, this has to be agreed before 1 July.
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