FIRST CRACKS EMERGE: Belgium points finger at fellow EU states for slowing Brexit progress

17 Oct

Paris and Berlin recently rebuffed a plea by the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, to loosen the terms of his vice-like mandate in order to help free up the negotiations.  

According to EU sources only Romania actively sided with the big two in that instance, with the rest of the club all openly or tacitly signalling support for the Frenchman’s position. 

France and Germany were also behind a toughening up of the proposed draft conclusions for this month’s Council summit which restrict Mr Barnier’s wiggle room to negotiate. 

A first version of the document, drawn up by president Donald Tusk, had left the chief negotiator with some room for manoeuvre by calling on Britain to “live up to” the bloc’s expectations. 

But at the behest of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron that wording was changed to the much harder demand that the UK “complies”, whilst an incendiary reference to the ECJ was also inserted. 

Asked about the impasse today, Mr Reynders said: “We tried to go further but we’re still on the same three issues. We have made some progress and certainly since the last speech of Theresa May in Florence.

“But now we’re waiting for concrete proposals, what are the real limits. Then we are working on a transition period…but with what kind of consequence, so now we are waiting for the real concrete issues.” 

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