Third round of Brexit talks start today with a mountain to climb
Britain and the EU kick off a third round of Brexit talks today still sharply divided over what comes first — London’s future relationship with the bloc or the costly divorce settlement.
The European Union says there has to be “sufficient progress” in three key areas — EU citizen rights, Northern Ireland’s border and the exit bill — before it will turn to post-Brexit arrangements, possibly beginning in October. Britain says the two strands should be negotiated in parallel, arguing that progress on a free trade deal may even help resolve other sticky issues such as the future EU-UK border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
That is a complete no-go for Brussels, with officials saying they expected little progress in bridging a “very big gap” at this week’s talks.
They also blamed Britain for a “lack of substance” despite a flurry of position papers they said were strong on aspiration but short on detail. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier meanwhile listed on Twitter the EU’s own negotiating documents, noting: “EU positions clear and transparent since day one.” Barnier meets his British counterpart David Davis late afternoon for a first exchange, followed by three days of talks and a joint press conference. …read more