The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has defended leaked draft proposals which were earlier criticised by his UK counterpart, David Davis.
A major point of contention in the leaked draft proposals was a mechanism which would allow the EU to block the UK’s access to the single market in the event of a dispute arising during the two-year transition period following Brexit.
Davis had earlier called the tone of the proposals “discourteous” and warned that they could affect the progress already made in Brexit talks. However, in a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, Barnier has responded to this criticism and defended the leaked document.
How did Barnier respond?
According to the Independent, Barnier said that his conduct “has not been in the least discourteous or vindictive” in the process of Brexit negotiations. He further clarified that the mechanism through which the EU could block British access to the single market would not be used to punish the country during the proposed Brexit transition.
The chief negotiator defended the inclusion of the mechanism in the leaked draft proposals, arguing that it formed part of a comprehensive, legally-binding withdrawal agreement “which is legally sound and does not give rise to any uncertainty in anyone’s mind”.
What are the latest developments in Brexit negotiations?
Barnier highlighted that the proposed transition period has not yet been agreed in the negotiations, and warned that ongoing disagreements between the two parties could scupper such an arrangement.
The disagreements in question include:
- The UK’s has refused to grant permanent rights to EU citizens moving to the UK during the transition;
- The right of the UK to object to new EU laws; and
- The UK’s ability to participate in new justice and home affairs policies.
He added that the UK’s plan to leave the EU’s single market and customs union following its transition period would make border checks at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland inevitable – despite the fact that the UK is keen to avoid this outcome.