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October 3, 2017

EU parliament sides with Barnier: Brexit talks have not made sufficient progress

The European Parliament passed a motion by 557 to 92 votes on Tuesday afternoon warning that “sufficient progress has not yet been made” on first agreeing the divorce deal.

“Unless there is a major breakthrough” in the fifth round of talks in Brussels next week, the resolution calls on EU leaders to postpone their assessment of progress in the talks.

The vote follows comments from Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, who told MEPs on Tuesday morning that not enough progress has been made in negotiations with the UK over its withdrawal from the bloc.

Although Barnier applauded prime minister Theresa May’s Florence speech for clarifying the government’s position on citizens’ rights and making explicit the request for a transition period, he said he couldn’t begin discussing the “implementation phase” with the UK.

Uncertainty remains over the UK’s Brexit bill, the Ireland question and the rights of citizens, delaying the second phase of talks.

Barnier said:

We have not yet achieved sufficient progress to undertake in full confidence the second phase of negotiations.

The EU wants its highest court to have a direct role in implementing the rights of its citizens living in the UK after the country leaves the bloc.

“We want guarantees on family reunification and the use abroad of social benefits acquired in the UK”, added Barnier.

He also warned that there are “serious divergences” over the financial settlement, adding that EU taxpayers should not have to pay the price for the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc in 2019.

His remarks echoed those of Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president.

“The taxpayers of the EU27 should not pay for the British decision,” he told MEPs on Tuesday.

Juncker also warned the UK of “going over the head” of Barnier in an attempt to appeal directly to EU member states.

Over the weekend, May declined to answer whether she would resign as prime minister if she fails to secure a Brexit deal and the UK leaves the EU without agreement on a future relationship in March 2019.

“What I have is a cabinet that are united in the mission of this government, and that is what you will see this week,” she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

The next round of official of EU-UK talks will begin in Brussels next week, before leaders of 28 member states are scheduled to meet at a summit on 19 and 20 October.

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