Michel Barnier: Britain "cannot and will not" cherry pick in trade deals

10 June 2020, 21:11

Michel Barnier
Michel Barnier. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Michel Barnier has told Britain that he "cannot and will not" allow cherry picking in Brexit trade talks.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator said on Wednesday that the UK is seeing a future relationship that is "very similar" to that of an EU member, which he described as "unacceptable".

He said: "Britain is demanding a lot more from the EU than Canada, Japan or other partners."

"We cannot and we will not allow this cherry picking."

Since Britain left the EU in January, the two sides have been engaged in an 11 month transition period to sort out the terms of a future relationship.

Boris Johnson has said he will not extend the Brexit deadline
Boris Johnson has said he will not extend the Brexit deadline. Picture: PA

Boris Johnson has previously asserted that he will not extend any talks beyond the Brexit transition period, despite numerous warnings that the coronavirus could hinder progress.

The latest round of talks between the two sides concluded on Friday, however no breakthroughs were made.

Following the talks, Mr Barnier said there had been "no significant areas" of progress".

Mr Barnier said that in order to have an agreement ratified before the transition period ends at the end of the year, "we need a legal text by October 31st."

He said today at a press conference after a fourth round of talks came to a close that he hoped to meet again by the end of June and said "the door is still open" for the UK to extend the transition period.

It follows Mr Barnier's comments earlier this month that the EU is "open" to a two-year Brexit delay.

In the open letter, which was sent to the Westminster leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green Party and Alliance Party, Mr Barnier said the option of an extension to the Brexit transition period is available if the UK wants it.

It comes after the leaders of these parties previously wrote to Mr Barnier on May 15 calling for a two-year extension to be agreed between the UK and the EU amid the growing negotiations deadlock.

The Brexit transition began when the UK legally left the EU on January 31 and is due to conclude at the end of the year, with the Government stating repeatedly that the transition period will not be extended beyond December 31.

In his letter on Wednesday, Mr Barnier said: "Such an extension of up to one or two years can be agreed jointly by the two parties.

"The European Union has always said that we remain open on this matter.

"Any extension decision has to be taken by the Joint Committee before July 1, and must be accompanied by an agreement on a financial contribution by the United Kingdom."