Michel Barnier appears to believe he is the referee when he is a player on the pitch.

After four days of talks by video link, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there was “no significant regions of progress” and had accused Britain of “backtracking”. His UK counterpart David Frost said they would have to “intensify and accelerate” the procedure if there was to be any possibility of an arrangement.

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But, senior sources told The Sunday Telegraph and The Sunday Times that Mr Barnier was attempting to dictate terms rather than present his case on behalf of the other 27 countries. The source said: “The EU is unfairly characterising the political declaration.”Michel Barnier appears to believe he is the referee when he is a player on the pitch”. Last week’s talks had been intended to lay the ground for a summit to take stock of progress.

However, both sides suggested, the unwieldy method of meetings due to the coronavirus outbreak had reached its limit. It supposed that officials would need to begin meeting face to face if they were to proceed. Mr Barnier said he expected agreements could be in place at the month’s end. He explained: “I think that it will work better, it is going to be simpler and simpler.”

Boris Johnson is expecting to attend the high-level summit with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, European Council president Charles Michel and the president David-Maria Sassoli, of the European Parliament this month. The high-level assembly is regarded as an “inflexion point”. It will evaluate progress in the free trade talks and is effectively the final opportunity for the UK to ask for an extension to the transition period. However, a senior member of the negotiating team declared that the coronavirus outbreak supposed there would be some delay. However, he insisted the talks couldn’t be permitted to drag on into the autumn without signs that a deal was possible.

The official added: “We are not up for a lengthy negotiation over the next months into the fall where nobody knows what is going to occur.”We will need to work intensively today and to July to see if we can locate the high tech trade-offs that unlock a deal within our important negotiating parameters”. As it stands, the EU single market will be left by Britain when unless a deal is agreed, the Brexit transition period comes to replace it.
Mr Barnier has said, “Door remains open” for the UK to look for an extension to the transition period allowing more time for discussions to continue. However, Mr Johnson has ruled it out.

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