This comes after the EU capitals were given a “sobering” update by Michel Barnier, chief EU negotiator, following the recent round of Brexit negotiations. The EU’s chief negotiator presented details about the talks to ambassadors from the 27 member states on Friday. A spokesman for the German government, which holds the rolling EU presidency, said the bloc was ready to move negotiations quickly forward but “expressed the need for more realism in London”.
The comments are bad news for Downing Street which had been hoping an intervention from Merkel and other leaders would unlock the talks.
Speaking to The Guardian a British source close to the negotiations said: “With the budget now wrapped up we hope member states will become more engaged in this process in Brussels and get them moving forward politically in a helpful way.”
Both parties concluded their latest round of talks in London on Thursday.
However, neither side has been able to agree on the basic outlines of a deal to reassure businesses about the future.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
Sources have said Michel Barnier had not been overly pessimistic in his presentation on Friday.
However, on Thursday he warned a deal by the end of the year appeared “unlikely” given the British position on fisheries and Brussels’ demands for a “level playing field”.
He warned the ambassadors he believed negotiations needed to be wrapped up by the beginning of October due to the lengthy ratification process.
Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister
Michel Barnier reiterated what the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, said that even if the deal on offer was “low quality”, a “zero tariff, zero quota” agreement, it was worth having.
He added the EU would be open to revisiting some issues next year to strike separate agreements if the current negotiation was successful.
Two hurdles that still need to be addressed is the access to European fishing fleets to British waters and the creation of a ‘level playing field’ on regulations.
Only once these obstacles are overcome will both sides be able to move closer to getting a deal.
Dominic Cummings, Number 10 chief advisor
It is understood a number of the eight-member states with the greatest interest in fishing access reiterated to the room of ambassadors that they would not agree to a deal without agreement on fisheries.
Last week’s talks on fishing access focused on quota-sharing arrangements and the list of stocks for which shares need to be agreed.
Mr Barnier claimed the UK was effectively excluding European fleets from key stocks of fish in a move that risked destroying the bloc’s fishing industry.
The EU is demanding a “forward-looking” mechanism to ensure there is no regulatory undercutting in the future should the EU further develop its rulebook.