EU Negotiator: Brexit Transition Period Not Guaranteed if Differences Remain

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Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, has said there can be no guarantee of a transition period if the United Kingdom continues to argue over temporarily following the bloc's rules and regulations. Time is short, very short.

Barnier said that he did not understand the angry British reaction to a draft European Union transition agreement that contained swift sanctions for Britain if it breached the terms of the deal, including freezing its single market access.

He confirmed that Brussels is now drawing up a legal definition of the regulatory alignment that must continue between Northern Ireland and the European Union in order to avoid the creation of a hard border.

Mr Barnier said: "To be frank, I am surprised by these disagreements".

Barnier also rejected claims by his British counterpart David Davis that Brussels had been "discourteous" by including a punishment clause in a draft transition deal in case Britain breached the bloc's rules.

The focus of the work in Brussels this week has been the Brexit transition phase.

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EU Negotiator: Brexit Transition Period Not Guaranteed if Differences Remain

Mr Barnier was in London earlier this week for a working lunch with Mr Davis, where he told the Government "the time has come to make a choice" as he issued a major warning about "unavoidable" trade barriers if the United Kingdom quits the customs union.

He also hit back his United Kingdom counterpart David Davis's suggestion that the European Commission had been "discourteous" by suggesting in a draft document the United Kingdom could see some benefits - such as access to the single market - withdrawn, if disputes during the transition period could not be resolved.

"There is no wish whatsoever to punish", he said.

"The sooner the United Kingdom makes its choices, the better", Barnier also said. It has therefore to accept all the rules and the obligations until the end of the transition.

Border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are now "unavoidable" following Theresa May's decision to leave the customs union and single market, the EU's chief negotiator has insisted.

However, Michel Barnier gave a blunt assessment of the situation in Brussels earlier today.

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