Barnier says no ‘decisive progress’ in Brexit negotiations

Brussels: EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned on Thursday that the European Union and Britain had made no substantial breakthroughs in talks this week, with the key financial settlement a major stumbling bloc.
The latest, third round of talks concluded with Barnier and his British counterpart David Davis both underlining remaining differences despite time running out on achieving a comprehensive divorce deal.
“This week provided useful clarifications… but we did not get any decisive progress on the central subjects,” Barnier told a joint press conference with Davis in Brussels.
The officials did take a slightly more positive tone than when they began on Monday, when Barnier said, to a grim-faced Davis, that Britain must start negotiating “seriously”.
Davis on Thursday was more upbeat, although he reiterated his call for the European side to show more flexibility, especially on the divorce bill the UK must pay as a price for leaving the bloc. Britain’s Brexit settlement is estimated at up to 100 billion euros in Brussels but at 40 billion, according to reports in London.
“The EU has made a claim on the UK taxpayer, undoubtedly a large number, on the basis of what it says are our legal obligations. The proper approach to this is to go through it line by line,” Davis said. “We are a country which meets its international obligations,” Davis added firmly.
For his part, Barnier, said “EU taxpayers at 27 (member states) should not pay for obligations taken at 28.”
“The UK in July recognised it had obligations beyond the Brexit date but this week, the UK explained that its obligations will be limited to its last payment before exit,” Barnier said.
The EU has longstanding commitments, agreed to by Britain as a member state, in for example loans for Ukraine or to the African Development Bank, and London could not simply walk away from them, he added.