- Reuters/Francois Lenoir
LONDON – The UK government’s call for “intensified” Brexit negotiations have been mocked by EU sources who say that the teams do not have enough to discuss in their current monthly talks.
Downing Street said on Monday that it was “ready to intensify negotiations” and “typically [with] negotiations, as time goes on you see the pace pick up.”
This followed reports that the government was prepared to suggest “continuous negotiations” which would see Brexit talks extended on a week-by week basis in order to break the deadlock over the divorce bill.
However, one EU source told the Times newspaper: “We said we can have more rounds if they want. If they have substance. But frankly, we have run out of things to explore.
“We need to negotiate. We already ran out of steam twice in sessions two and three after a few days, so what would we do in these more frequent rounds?”
Last week the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said: “Time is flying. It’s passing very quickly. If we need to, we on our side are prepared on behalf of the EU institutions to step up and intensify the rhythm of those negotiations.”
The teams need to have made “sufficient progress” by October on three key issues in order to be given a mandate by the European Council to move talks onto the future relationship.
The two sides need to find an agreement on the issues of citizens’ rights, the Northern Irish border, and Britain’s financial obligations for negotiations to progress.
The next round of talks is scheduled to being on September 18, three weeks after the last, which shows that negotiations are already stepping up a pace, as there has been a break of four weeks previously.
The European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator suggested that the next round could be delayed on the UK’s orders, instead of it forcing talks to be intensified.
Guy Verhofstadt told MEPs: “Possibly the next round of negotiation will be the last week of September, not the third week of September.
“Apparently there will be an important intervention by the British prime minister in the coming days, foreseen on September 21, and then it’s a little bit stupid that this is mixed with the negotiation round.”
Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly going to make a speech on the future relationship she wants the UK to have with the EU after Brexit.