Barnier’s letter to UK: Let’s stop sending letters about Brexit

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator | Stephanie Lecocq/EPA-EFE

Barnier’s letter to UK: Let’s stop sending letters about Brexit

EU Brexit negotiator responds to his British counterpart.


5/20/20, 6:02 PM CET

Updated 5/20/20, 6:07 PM CET

The EU wants the U.K. to discuss their points of difference in Brexit talks at the negotiating table rather than via letters — and made that point in a letter.

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier answered a critical letter from his U.K. counterpart David Frost Wednesday, saying that “detailed discussions on substance are for the negotiating table.” The exchange of letters came as the U.K. on Tuesday published a set of draft legal texts on its Brexit stance.

“I share your commitment to helping the process move forward together,” Barnier wrote to Frost. “I do not think, however, that an exchange of letters regarding the substance of the negotiations is necessarily the best way to discuss on substantial points.

“It cannot be a substitute for serious engagement and detailed negotiations and, in particular, I would not like the tone that you have taken to impact the mutual trust and constructive attitude that is essential between us.”

Barnier did, however, respond to the U.K. arguments, for example by explaining why so-called level playing field provisions are so important for the EU. “The EU cannot expect high-quality access to the EU Single Market if it is not prepared to accept guarantees to ensure that competition remains open and fair. The EU has been clear about this since 2017.”

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