No 'decisive progress' in third round of Brexit talks, top EU negotiator says

Key Points
  • Michel Barnier says no "decisive progress" has been made following third round of Brexit talks
  • Barnier says he is willing to step up talks to reach resolution ahead of March 2019 departure
  • Davis says "concrete progress" has been made
Michel Barnier during a news conference after a meeting of EU finance ministers at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Jasper Juinen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator has lamented a lack of developments in the third round of Brexit negotiations, saying that no "decisive progress" has been made on any principal subjects.

Michel Barnier said Thursday that the three-day talks in Brussels with his British counterpart David Davis, and their respective delegations, had secured "useful clarification on a number of points," but insisted that both sides remain far from agreeing a final deal ahead of the U.K.'s departure from the EU.

"We did not get any decisive progress on any of the principal subjects," Barnier told reporters, referring to the key issues citizens' rights and the U.K.'s Brexit bill.

He admitted, however, that talks on the Irish border – the third issue of contention in early stage discussions – had been "fruitful."

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With core issues still unresolved, Barnier said that the prospect of opening talks on the two sides' future relationship remained far off. These talks had been due to start in October.

"At the current state of progress, we're quite far from being able to say that sufficient progress has been made," Barnier noted.

He added that he and his team were willing to "step up and intensify the rhythm of negotiations" to guarantee a deal in time.

Britain is scheduled to leave the EU at midnight on March 29, 2019.

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Barnier's comments clashed with those of Davis, who said the talks had resulted in "concrete progress." He claimed agreement on Ireland and citizens' rights.

But he once again urged the EU to be more "flexible and imaginative" in its approach to talks, and allow discussions over a future deal to take place alongside withdrawal negotiations.

"There is an unavoidable overlap between withdrawal and the future and they cannot be neatly compartmentalized," Davis said.

Just two further rounds of exit talks are currently scheduled. These are set to take place on September 28 and, later, October 9.