BRUSSELS: Top EU officials were warned Wednesday to make plans to cope with the fallout from a “no-deal” Brexit as their chief negotiator said talks with Britain must make more progress before next week’s crunch summit.
EU Brexit pointman Michel Barnier and Martin Selmayr, the powerful head of the EU Commission’s bureaucracy, briefed commissioners on progress just a week before the October 18 meeting that has been dubbed a “moment of truth.”
According to spokesman Margaritis Schinas, Barnier “recalled that decisive progress must be made in time for the October European Council next week and negotiations at technical level will continue this week.”
Selmayr meanwhile “provided a brief update on the state of play of the Commission preparedness work and recalled the importance for all stakeholders to prepare for all outcomes and at all levels.”
Selmayr, secretary general of the European Commission, has been tasked with coordinating preparedness to protect the EU from economic and political damage if Britain leaves the bloc on March 29 next year without a divorce deal in place.
Barnier is attempting to negotiate such a deal, but time is running out and EU leaders have made it clear that they expect Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May to come up with a way to unblock talks before next week.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration and home affairs, said Barnier had briefed the body on the state of play in the negotiations.
“Michel Barnier and his team are working day and night to reach a deal, but we are not there yet,” he said. He referred further questions to Barnier, who was due to make a speech to European business leaders later in the day.