Michel Barnier has accused Boris Johnson of time wasting as he said a Brexit deal between the UK and EU is now “unlikely”.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said at a press conference on Friday that talks have gone “backwards”.
Barnier’s comments came after the conclusion of the seventh round of negotiations between the UK and the EU to establish a “future relationship” framework once the Brexit “transition period” ends on 31 December.
The UK has ruled out extending the transition period.
In an attack on the Johnson administration, Barnier said: “It felt as if we were going backwards rather than forwards.
“Today, at this stage, an agreement between the UK and EU seems unlikely.
“I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time."
It comes after David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, accused Barnier of making negotiations “unnecessarily difficult” by “insisting” the UK must sign up to the bloc’s state aid and fisheries policy.
He added an “agreement is still possible, and it is still our goal, but it is clear that it will not be easy to achieve”.
On Tuesday, the EU warned that if an agreement is to happen, it must be done “in October at the latest”.
At Friday’s press conference, Barnier said the UK needs to agree to the EU’s “level playing field” principle: common rules to prevent prevent businesses on one side undercutting their rivals in the other with lower workers’ rights or environmental protections.
He added there has been “no progress whatsoever” on another key issue of fisheries.
The next round of talks will start in London in the week beginning 7 September.