UK must commit to Brexit divorce bill within two weeks before talks can turn to trade - Barnier

Michel Barnier, the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit. (Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP)

The EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator has set a two-week deadline for the UK to agree to a Brexit divorce bill.

Michel Barnier said that talks could not progress to the next stage – namely discussions of future trade deals – unless a commitment is made within the time frame.

EU leaders will officially decide at a summit in December whether or not sufficient progress has been made in phase one of Brexit talks in order for discussions to move on to the second phase.

Mr Barnier was speaking at joint press conference with Brexit Secretary David Davis in Brussels following the sixth round of Brexit talks.

He told the media that ‘some progress’ had been made but more work is needed on a number of issues.

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

“We are not asking the UK for concessions, nor are we planning to make any concessions ourselves,” he said.

Mr Barnier said that this latest round of talks had largely involved “deepening discussions, clarification and technical work”.

He said his “top priority” was to secure sufficient progress on the issues of citizens’ rights, the border with Ireland and Britain’s “divorce bill” by the time of the next EU summit in December.

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“Only sufficient progress – that is to say sincere and real progress – on the three main key issues of these negotiations will enable the triggering of the of second phase of our negotiation,” he said.

Mr Davis said the negotiations had narrowed to “a few outstanding – albeit important – issues”.

He said: “Now is the time for both sides to move together to seek solutions.

Public opinion of the Brexit negotiations

“This is a serious business. If we are to find a way forward it will require flexibility and pragmatism from both sides.

“This is now about moving into the political discussions that will enable both of us to move forward together.

“We must now look ahead to moving our discussions on to our future relationship.

“For this to happen, both parties need to build confidence in both the process and indeed in the shared outcome.”

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