Barnier furious with EU as Brexit chief grows ‘frustrated’ with bloc
King’s College London Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs and Director of UK in a Changing Europe, Anand Menon, warned tensions between Michel Barnier and the European Union were rising. During an interview with Express.co.uk, Mr Menon argued Michel Barnier’s job as chief Brexit negotiator was being made more difficult by leaders of member states refusing any compromise. Mr Menon also claimed both the UK and EU would eventually have to relax their trade deal stances and Michel Barnier was adamant on doing that for the EU.
Mr Menon said: “The interesting thing about Michel Barnier’s frustration is we have seen it targeted at the UK like at the end of the fourth round of Brexit trade talks.
“But I think he is also frustrated with the EU.
“This is because one of the things that have happened over the last few weeks is that whenever Barnier has gone to the member states to ask for a bit more wiggle room, they have tightened up his mandate and made it harder for him to come to a deal.
“As he said back in the middle of May, both sides are approaching the Brexit trade negotiations from a maximalist point of view.
“I think his frustration is what this makes it harder for him to strike a deal.”
Mr Menon also expanded on how Britain and the EU would come to an agreement on the Brexit trade deal.
He said: “In order for there to be a Brexit trade deal, one or both sides are going to have to give some ground.
“What we don’t know yet is if either side is willing to give some ground.
“I think one of the things about the talks currently is that because of COVID-19 the political leaders on both sides have not really been engaging with Brexit talks.
“You have to remember on the UK’s side the negotiations are being solely carried out by a special adviser, there is no direct political involvement.
“If we are going to get a deal, then by the time we get into the autumn, political leaders on both sides are going to start having to make some trade-offs.
“It could be the French having to concede and say we are going to ask less about fish.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the EU and Remainers in the UK have insisted that Brexit trade talks should be halted and there should be an extension to the transition period.
However, Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove and UK Brexit negotiator David Frost has insisted we will not be extending.
Mr Frost has claimed on multiple occasions, under no circumstances would the UK agree to an extension and plan to stick to the current schedule indefinitely.