EU bemoans lack of Brexit progress

Brussels, Jun 5 (efe-epa).- The European Union complained on Friday of a lack of progress in Brexit talks with the United Kingdom.

With the latest round of negotiations wrapped up, the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the fault in the situation was not with the methodology but the substance of the conversations.

“We engaged in this negotiation on the basis of a joint political declaration that clearly sets out the terms of our future partnership,” he added.

“Round after round, our British counterparts wish to distance themselves from this common basis.”

He said negotiators were far from consensus on ensuring a level playing field for competition once the UK completes the transition period of leaving the bloc.

The French politician said three other examples included civil nuclear cooperation, anti-fraud and counter-terror partnerships and fishing policies.

The political declaration sets out the future relationship between the EU and the UK, and has been agreed by both parties after a revision of the first draft.

“We cannot and will not accept this backtracking on the political declaration,” Barnier said.

In apparent frustration, he added that the political declaration was easy to read and available in English.

The UK’s transition period began when it formally withdrew from the EU on 31 January and is due to last until 31 December during which time EU laws continue to apply to the UK.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has until the end of June this year to request a one or two year extension to the negotiation period, although his Conservative Party government has so far rejected this option.

Without an extension the UK and the EU will have five months to finalize a deal on their future relationship.

Failing to do so could result in the UK crashing out of the bloc without a deal in place.

David Frost, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, said: “Progress remains limited, but our talks have been positive in tone.

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