THE UK’s chief Brexit negotiator has hit back after his EU counterpart Michel Barnier said progress in trade talks had been “disappointing” and accused Britain of refusing to commit “seriously” on a number of key points.
David Frost took to Twitter to say he was looking forward to the third round of negotiations which start on Monday. He added: “I would also like to make clear that the EU have from us a full set of draft agreements… These cover the full ground of the negotiations.”
Mr Frosts tweet comes after Mr Barnier said progress had been disappointing when the second round of negotiations ended in April.
The EUs chief Brexit negotiator said tangible progress had only been “very partially met”, adding: “The UK did not wish to commit seriously on a number of fundamental points.”
Those were agreed by the Prime Minister and his team in the political declaration developed by both sides, which he said must be implemented in a “serious, objective, legal way”.
Mr Barnier added: “This is not the case now yet in a number of areas. I regret that and it worries me.
“We need to find solutions on the most difficult topics.
“The UK cannot refuse to extend transition and at the same time slow down discussions on important areas.”
Mr Barnier criticised the UK for having “failed to engage substantially” on the subject of the level playing field.
Overall governance of a future partnership is another area where both sides are “very far apart”, he said.
The EU wants a single framework to jointly manage the future relationship but the UK “continues to insist on a number of separate agreements”, he said.
Britain also refused to “provide firm guarantees rather than vague principles on fundamental rights and individual freedoms” creating “serious, serious” limitations for a security partnership, while the UK must recognise a role for the European Court of Justice.
And “no progress” has been made on fisheries as the UK has “not put forward a legal text”, Mr Barnier said.
The UK is in a transition period with the EU until December 31 2020.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly insisted he will not extend the deadline despite warnings an agreement may not be possible by the end of the year.
Trade talks have been taking place remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking earlier this week, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove warned extending the deadline could hinder the UKs coronavirus recovery.
And Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said finalising a free trade agreement would help the UK and the EU to “bounce back” after coronavirus.
Asked why the Government was sticking to the end-of-year-deadline, he said: “I think the right thing to do for the UK, but also for the EU, is to avoid any future uncertainty beyond the end of this year by agreeing what ought to be a reasonably straight-forward approach in negotiating.
“That will be the surest way to make sure we can give our economies a boost by maintaining seamless and as frictionless trade as possible.
“And that is the way the UK and European countries have an opportunity to bounce back after this.
“I think prolonging the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiation is unnecessary and would actually make that uncertainty worse.”