Michel Barnier: EU is preparing for 'no deal' Brexit
In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, Barnier made clear he was not looking for a 'no deal' outcome, but said both sides must prepare for the eventuality
Image credit: EC
The European Commissions is making preparations in case Brexit negotiations with the UK collapse, according to Michel Barnier.
The comments from the EU's chief Brexit negotiator come as Theresa May is meeting business groups from across the continent to discuss the future trading relationship with the EU.
In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, Barnier made clear he was not looking for a 'no deal' outcome, but said both sides must prepare for the eventuality.
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“But it's a possibility. Everyone needs to plan for it, member states and businesses alike. We too are making technical preparations for it. On 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom will become a third country," he said.
He also repeated that the UK must make clear how much of a financial settlement it is willing to pay to leave the bloc. At a press conference on Friday following round six of negotiations, Barnier gave the UK a fortnight to "clarify" the offer.
While May has made clear she is willing to sanction payments to cover the Government's current EU budget commitments, Brussels wants more cash to cover ongoing liabilities such as pensions payments for EU staff.
Barnier warned that a summit set for 14-15 December "will be postponed" if there is not more progress on the talks "within the next 14 working days".
The Prime Minister will meet representatives of the CBI and other business lobby groups from across Europe at Downing St later today.
They are expected to call for more clarity on the future trading relationship and guarantees on a transitional deal with the bloc.
May has said she expects an "implementation period" of about two years, but there is no firm commitment on the timetabling at this stage.
With ‘don’t knows’ excluded, 66 per cent would support the UK remaining as a EU member state, compared to 34 per cent who support leaving
Exactly 50 per cent of respondents to the poll said they would favour a new vote on Brexit in a ‘no-deal’ scenario
Calls for a vote on the final deal negotiated with the EU have been growing in recent months, with a string of high-profile MPs throwing their weight behind the campaign
A YouGov survey for The Times found that 42 per cent now back a referendum on the deal