LONDON – European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker questioned the “stability and accountability” of Brexit Secretary David Davis during a meeting of EU officials earlier this summer.
Juncker “expressed concern” about Davis during a meeting with Commission colleagues, specifically his “lack of involvement” in Brexit negotiations with his EU counterparts, according to minutes taken at the July meeting.
In an extraordinary exchange with the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and other EU officials, Juncker said Davis’ conduct was “jeopardising” chances of successful negotiations between Britain and the bloc.
The dossier, available to read online, reads:
“Winding up the discussion, the PRESIDENT [Juncker] expressed his concern about the question of the stability and accountability of the UK negotiator and his apparent lack of involvement, which risked jeopardising the success of the negotiations.”
This was in response to Barnier, who “emphasised the importance” of being able to “negotiate with a stable, accountable and authorised interlocutor who was available for the negotiations” with him and his negotiating team.
Barnier expressed his concern that difficulties “might be caused” during negotiations “by any potential absence of the chief negotiator on the British side,” referring to Conservative minister Davis.
Minutes from the July meeting have been published as British and EU negotiators struggle to reach an agreement on the issues of the Northern Irish border, citizens’ rights and the money Britain must pay to Brussels in financial obligations (or “divorce bill” as its more commonly known.) The EU has insisted that talks cannot move onto the next stage until “sufficient progress” has been made on these issues.
Barnier last week said no “decisive progress” had been made on these issues despite weeks of talks between EU and British negotiators. Davis claimed discussions had “exposed” the EU as being less “flexible and pragmatic” than Britain.