Michel Barneir mocks UK negotiators: “we will not make any progress if the British continue to pick raisins”

Michel Barnier has accused the UK Brexit Trade negotiator, David Frost, and his negotiation team, just before the start of the fourth round of negotiations, of wanting the “best of both worlds”, same conditions as an EU member without being in the Single Market or Customs Union.

In a lengthy interview with German radio station Deutschlandfunk, the Chief EU negotiator said: “The British have not understood or do not want to understand that Brexit has consequences for them. For us too. But also for them.
“That after leaving the EU, they cannot have the same conditions and status as when they were members of the European Union. That is your choice.
“It is difficult for them to accept the consequences of Brexit, there should be more realism in London in the near future if they want an orderly agreement to exit the single market and customs union.”

Just after the third round of negotiations, the UK made public its draft negotiation texts, showing their outline of a Free Trade deal offered to the European Union. But the EU stance on a Level Playing Field isn’t acceptable by Boris Johnson’s negotiation team, as its at direct odds with the future independence of the United Kingdom. The EU’s term “level playing field”, if the UK were to adhere to the EU term, it would mean the EU taking on large amounts of EU rules and laws, ultimately binding the hands of the UK’s competitiveness in future trade deals with other countries.

If the negotiations don’t produce any fruit, the UK has until the 1st July to ask for an extension to the transition period. This would mean a change in law, pushing the deadline date beyond 31st December 2020. Though the extension option is available, it’s mainly the EU that is willing and wanting the UK to extend these negotiations.
Downing Street has maintained the UK will honour the timeline – despite earlier this week Mr Barnier offering the UK a 24-month delay in a letter to opposition party leaders.
Mr Barnier said: “we will not make any progress if the British continue to pick raisins and want the best of both worlds for themselves.
“I was told the popular expression of the German language ‘You cannot dance on two weddings at the same time’.
“This is the attitude of the British leaving the European Union, but they want to keep all the advantages. More realism is needed.”
This week, during the Commons Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, Mr Frost said: “I think it’s fair to say that we have a fundamental disagreement at the moment on most aspects of the level playing field.
“There are one or two areas that are slightly less controversial and problematic, but in most of the important areas, there’s a big gap.
“And he obviously is delivering the mandate he was given. Member states regard the level playing field as very important.
“I think, to recall, we are not saying that there can be no level playing field provisions, we’re simply saying that there must be provisions which are appropriate to a free trade agreement.”
On whether a deal could be reached during the fourth round of negotiations, Michel Barnier said: “It is very difficult, but it is possible. Still possible, even if the British are now imposing a time constraint by refusing to extend the negotiations.
“These could be extended by a year or two if you wish. We are ready for it.
“If they don’t want to, we now have eight months, even less, six months to leave time for ratification. So extremely difficult, but still possible.”

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