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Differences remain, the clock keeps ticking as the second round of Brexit talks come to an end

  • The European Union and U.K. are far from reaching an agreement on key issues in Brexit talks, as the second round of negotiations comes to an end
  • Negotiating teams recognized some progress had been made but there are still "fundamental" differences, including on citizens' rights and the Irish border
  • Barnier told the British negotiator, David Davis, "very clearly" that he needs to make the U.K. position evident to ensure "sufficient progress" in this process
Jack Taylor | Getty Images

The European Union and the U.K. are far from reaching an agreement on key issues in Brexit talks, as the second round of negotiations comes to an end.

Both negotiating teams have recognized some progress has been made but there are still "fundamental" differences, including issues on citizens' rights and the Irish border. The EU has called on the U.K., once again, to be more precise about its position on how it wants to exit the world's biggest trading bloc before talks on a future partnership can develop.

"There does remain one fundamental divergence on the way such (citizens') rights would be guaranteed and on several other points, for example the rights' of future family members or the export of certain social benefits," Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, told reporters in Brussels.

"Therefore, at the next negotiating session we must clarify the reasons for those divergences while constantly remembering our common objective that those citizens might continue to live as they do today," he added.

Without an agreement on citizens' rights, how much the U.K. will have to pay to close its accounts with Brussels and on the stability of the Irish border, the U.K. cannot establish its future cooperation with the EU.

Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations with the UK under Article 50 of the Treaty on EU gives a press conference at the European Commission on December 6, 2016.
EMMANUEL DUNAND | AFP | Getty Images
Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations with the UK under Article 50 of the Treaty on EU gives a press conference at the European Commission on December 6, 2016.

Barnier told the British negotiator, David Davis, "very clearly" that he needs to make the U.K. position evident to ensure "sufficient progress" in this process.

Brexit talks have a two-year deadline, expiring in March 2019. However, negotiators are still trying to clarify the British position, raising doubts over whether there will be a Brexit deal by then.

David Davis, the U.K.'s negotiator, acknowledged that indeed there is a clock ticking, but he sounded more positive about the progress done so far.

"Overall, I am encouraged by the progress we have made on understanding each other's position on citizens' rights; the financial settlement; the first meetings of sub-groups on separation issues, and on the issues around Ireland and Northern Ireland," he told reporters in Brussels.

Davis reiterated that the U.K. will meet with its financial obligations.

However, at this round there was no progress achieved on the so-called exit bill.

"We are both going for a good deal," Davis said.

The next round of talks is due in August.