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No big progress on Brexit since March - EU's Barnier

16 May 2018
No big progress on Brexit since March - EU's Barnier

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has warned that little progress has been made on the main issues in negotiations between the EU and United Kingdom since March.

Barnier's statement has come before a government Brexit meeting, called by the British Prime Minister on May 15.

Brussels has set the tight timeline so that a full divorce agreement can be tabled by October, to give the European and British parliaments time to ratify it by the day Britain leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019.

The EU has suggested a "backstop" proposal, in which only Northern Ireland would stay in a customs union with the EU post-Brexit, but London says that would effectively create a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions have contributed significantly to United Kingdom foreign policy, she added, citing Operation Atalanta, the EU's flagship anti-piracy operation which Britain leads, as a good example.

Mr Coveney is adamant, however, that London must present its proposals within the next few weeks; "if there is a new approach that can held get us there then we're happy to talk about that, as is the Barnier task force".

"We are concerned that there is no clear stance, no clear position from the British".

"I think the concept of a shared customs space is something that we would like to see some new thinking on from the British side", he said before holding Brexit talks with other European Union ministers in Brussels.

Barnier said the "two key points where there is a risk of failure" is the Irish issue, and the governance of any future Brexit deal, which Britain says must be out of the hands of the EU's top court. It would make a lot of other problems that are hard to solve right now...

It is not clear how the ideas of "shared customs space" and "customs partnership differ precisely except that the name of the former may be seen as more politically palatable to Brexiters".

The Office for National Statistics said Tuesday that average earnings for workers, excluding bonuses, were up 2.9 percent in the first three months of the year from the same period the year before.