Brussels officials have poured cold water on Britain’s threat to bypass the EU and open one-on-one Brexit negotiations with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel.
The British government is frustrated that the EU will not discuss the terms of the future EU-UK relationship until secession issues like the “divorce bill” and the rights of EU citizens are settled.
As a result Downing Street is reportedly planning to go over the heads of the EU negotiating team and go directly to world leaders: where they hope they will get a warmer reception on the subject of trade.
The plan comes after harsh words from Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and chief negotiator Michel Barnier about Britain’s approach to the talks so far – with Mr Barnier urging the UK to begin negotiating “seriously”.
But asked about the threat to go directly to member states, Brussels officials close to the negotiations pointed to a statement agreed by member states, including France and Germany, that they would abstain from any separate side talks.
The European Council’s negotiating plan says the negotiations are to be conducted as “as a single package” where “individual items cannot be settled separately”
“So as not to undercut the position of the Union, there will be no separate negotiations between individual Member States and the United Kingdom on matters pertaining to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union,” they say.
The French government also said earlier this week that it “fully supports, on the substance as well as on the method, Michel Barnier’s negotiating mandate” and that suggestions in the British eurosceptic press that it would bypass him “are founded on absolutely nothing and do not reflect reality”.
Brexit Secretary Mr Davis said at the start of the latest round of talks that he wanted to see “flexibility and imagination on both sides”.
Brexit: the deciders
European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier speaks to the media as he arrives at the Council of the European Union ahead of an EU Council meeting on April 29, 2017 in Brussels, Belgium. The 27 members of the European Union will meet in Brussels for a special European Council meeting to discuss the continuing Brexit negotiation
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) at the Elysee Palace, in Paris
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
The European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt gestures as he addresses a press conference with the European Parliament president after Britain initiated the process to leave the EU
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May stands on the flight deck and speaks to crew members of the 65,000-tonne British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth after it arrived at Portsmouth Naval base, its new home port on August 16, 2017 in Portsmouth, England. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is the lead ship in the new Queen Elizabeth class of supercarriers. Weighing in at 65,000 tonnes she is the largest war ship deployed by the British Royal Navy. She is planned to be in service by 2020 and with a second ship, HMS Prince of Wales, to follow
Brexit Secretary David Davis in central London
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, leaves 11 Downing Street, in central London
“Our goal remains the same: we want to agree a deal that works in the best interests for both the European Union and the United Kingdom and people and businesses right across Europe. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to work once more,” he said.
Defending the UK’s position papers from criticism by the Commission, the minister said they were the product of “hard work and detailed thinking that has been going on behind the scenes” for the last year.
EU and UK officials have been meeting in Brussels for the third round of negotiations this week, with issues on the table including the divorce bill, the Northern Ireland border, and the rights of EU citizens.
UK plan to bypass European Commission in Brexit talks doomed to fail – The Independent