During a joint press conference with the Brexit secretary, David Davis, there were few signs of any progress having been made since an October summit of EU leaders ruled that insufficient progress had been made to allow talks on a future trading relationship to begin.
On the biggest hurdle to progress, the divorce bill, Davis simply repeated Theresa May’s pledges from her Florence speech in September: to ensure that no member state lost out in the two years after Britain left the bloc, and to honour past commitments.
The EU is demanding clarity on those commitments before it will open talks on a transition period or the principles of a future trading deal.
Barnier said: “I have to present a sincere and real progress to the European council and the European parliament.”
EU leaders need to decide at a summit in mid-December whether “sufficient” progress has been made on preliminary issues to allow the talks to move on to future relations, a stage Britain is desperate to reach.
Meanwhile, Davis batted away the suggestion from the Irish government and the European commission, as detailed in a leaked paper seen by the Guardian, that the issue of the Irish border could be settled by keeping the province in the single market and customs union.
He told reporters that there would be “no new border in the United Kingdom”.
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