EU hits back at Theresa May: 'Brexit negotiations are not a ball game'

The PM had said the Brexit ball was in the EU's court

Jon Stone
Brussels
Monday 09 October 2017 20:14
Comments
EU hits back at Theresa May: 'Brexit negotiations are not a ball game'

The European Commission has hit back at Theresa May’s comments on Brexit negotiations, admonishing the Prime Minister and warning Britain it still has more work to do before a deal can be struck.

In a statement released to the media the night before the start of the fifth round of negotiations Ms May had argued that her Florence speech meant EU had to give ground and that “the ball’s in their court”.

But speaking to reporters in Brussels on Monday the EU seemed unimpressed by the Prime Minister’s approach and comments. “This is not exactly a ball game,” Margaritis Schinas, the Commission’s chief spokesperson told reporters in Brussels.

“We do not provide comment on comments. What I can remind you of is that there is a clear sequencing to these talks. There has been, so far, no solution found on step one, which is the divorce proceedings, so the ball is entirely in the UK’s court for the rest to happen.”

The spokesperson said this sentiment been clearly express “by most if not all political groups” in the European Parliament.

British officials confirmed on Monday that David Davis would not be travelling to Brussels today for the start of the talks, as he has done for the previous four rounds. As a result the customary joint press conference with Brtish and EU officials – sometimes used in the past to snipe at the other side – has also not been scheduled this time.

Asked about Mr Davis’s absence – which is apparently for parliamentary duties - the European Commission spokesperson said the pace of talks would depend on the availability of British negotiators.

“The European Commission article 50 team is available 24/7, the timing of talks depends on the availability of our UK partners. We are always here and we are ready,” he said. “As far as the Secretary of State’s agenda is concerned you may like to check directly with him.”

The spokesperson would not elaborate directly on whether Mr Davis’s absence in this instance would hold up the talks. Mr Davis and Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier have both been absent for days during the talks before, leaving the details to officials – a though never on the first day of a round.

The Prime Minister is set to face MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon to update them on the progress of Brexit talks.

In comments, which were pre-briefed to the media overnight, she is expected to tell MPs: “Achieving that partnership [with the EU] will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU. And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic we will receive a positive response.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in