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Michel Barnier: EU negotiator 'failing to make himself available' | The Guardian |

... UK officials were said to be "tearing their hair out" at the EU's failure to live up to their pledges to intensify talks at the highest level. The issue has been a reversal of the positions earlier in the talks, when Barnier made the point to EU diplomats in private that he would have liked to see more of David Davis, the then Brexit secretary, in Brussels.

The tension in the talks has been exacerbated by a lack of progress in the negotiations last week, despite claims by both sides that the discussions had been "positive".

The Guardian has learned that discussions over Northern Ireland proved to be some of the most difficult yet, with both sides digging in. Irish government officials, briefed on the meeting, were told that the UK side had insisted that progress on avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland could not be made unless there was progress on Chequers.

The EU, in turn, repeated that the British government needed to live up to the commitments it made on an "all-weather" solution to avoiding a hard border through a backstop solution in the withdrawal agreement, which would snap into place if a wider deal or bespoke technological solution did not solve the problem.

Sources said the talks were so difficult that the only positive that could be taken was that the clash between the officials had been aired now rather than later in the year.

Barnier - who tweeted a picture of himself on Sunday posing in the sun in Albertville, in his home region of Savoie in south-east France - has been in Germany, and was understood to be again leaving Brussels for Croatia on Friday afternoon, following what was set to be an early morning meeting with Raab.

Barnier subsequently changed his flights, however. Five hours of talks with Raab are now pencilled in to his diary awaiting confirmation, it is understood.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 29th, 2018 at 11:41:39 PM EST

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