Michel Barnier said the UK needed to come up with clear proposals
Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, has warned that the agreement on a transition period after Brexit is still up in the air.
This was the first press conference where David Davis, his British counterpart, was absent because of “diary constraints” as Barnier updated the media on the latest round of negotiations.
The talks over the past week had focused on the issue of the Irish border, the governance of the withdrawal agreement and the transition period.
Barnier said that an update on the future relationship by the UK had been planned but had to be cancelled. He added that it was the only meeting that was cancelled.
The withdrawal agreement
The major point of disagreement is whether the withdrawal agreement should be governed by implementation mechanisms, which include the European Court of Justice.
The transition period
Barnier said that while the UK wanted to have an agreement on this by March, there were “substantial disagreements”, notably on citizens’ rights. On this issue, the UK did not want to extend the rights of EU citizens arriving in the UK during the transition period after it will end.
The UK also demanded a “veto right” on new laws and regulations which enter into force during the transition period.
He added that the UK wanted to keep its opt-in to participate in new policies in the area of justice and home affairs, “even though it decided to leave these same policies at the end of the transition.”
“If these disagreements persist, the transition is not a given.”
Barnier said that the provision of regulatory alignment with the single market and the customs union which support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the Good Friday Agreement, had to be in the withdrawal agreement to “guarantee that there will be no hard border whatever the circumstances.”
He called for translating this into a legal agreement that would work in operational terms and said that “there must be no ambiguity here.”
But the other two options, which could either only be treated in the context of the future relationship or which demanded specific solutions from the UK to do justice to the unique situation of Northern Ireland, would be discussed in parallel.