Michel Barnier: 'UK cannot refuse Brexit transition extension and slow down talks at the same time"

# 17:56
24 April 2020

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has accused the UK of dragging its feet over post-Brexit negotiations, at the end of the second round of talks on the future relationship, APA reports citing Euronews.

He described this week's talks, which resumed this week by videoconference after a six-week standstill amid the coronavirus pandemic, as "disappointing" -- adding that no progress had been made in key areas.

The UK had failed to engage or provide texts on crucial topics such as fishing, Barnier said. Yet "more than ever, the clock is ticking," he added, ahead of crucial deadlines this year.

"We cannot accept to make selective progress, on a limited set of issues only. We need to make progress on all issues in parallel. We need to find solutions on the most difficult topics. The UK cannot refuse to extend the transition, and at the same time slow down discussions on important areas," the chief negotiator said.

Despite the health and economic crisis, attention must now focus on the post-Brexit ties, which have to be sorted before the transition period ends on December 31. This keeps many arrangements intact from the UK's time as an EU member state.

But these will abruptly change unless a new agreement is in place.

The UK government insists it will not seek an extension of the transition period, even though energies on both sides have been completely sidetracked by the battle against COVID-19.

But many voices are calling on the British to prolong the process, given the tight deadline. A decision on extension must be taken by the end of June, according to the terms of the divorce deal.

The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31.