Germany abandons Brexit negotiation plans at EU Ambassadorial Summit | Politics

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Germany has dropped plans to discuss Brexit at a high-level diplomatic meeting next week because there has been “no tangible progress” in the talks, the Guardian has learned, as Brussels laments a “completely wasted” summer.EU officials now believe the UK government is prepared to risk a no-deal exit when the transition period ends on December 31 and will try to blame Brussels if negotiations fail.

The German government, which holds the rotating EU Council presidency, intended to discuss Brexit at a meeting of EU ambassadors on September 2, but has now dropped the issue. “Since there has been no tangible progress in the EU-UK negotiations, the Brexit item has been taken off the agenda,” said an EU diplomat.

The move matters because Angela Merkel has been touted as a potential negotiator when talks about future UK-EU relations reach a crucial milestone this fall.

The German Chancellor met Emmanuel Macron last week at the French President’s official residence on the Côte d’Azur, where they discussed the future of the EU after Brexit. Following last week’s inconclusive round of negotiations, the two governments issued almost identical statements calling for “concrete responses” from the UK government.

“In recent months, Franco-German cooperation has gained new momentum,” said the European diplomat, the two countries having “realigned” on issues such as Brexit. “Given this new reality, it would be pointless to wait for a white knight from Paris or Berlin to come to the rescue.

Sandro Gozi, an Italian MEP who sits in Macron’s party in the European Parliament and was Italian Minister for Europe during the first phase of Brexit negotiations, said: “I doubt even Merkel or Macron are capable of transforming a dead end into a positive outcome.

“I have always thought – this is my personal position – that no deal was a real option, especially on the London side … Every day that goes by without concrete progress is a day closer to Brexit without an agreement.

The removal of Brexit from next week’s diplomatic agenda is a sign of growing pessimism in Brussels. “People underestimate how dark the mood is in the EU negotiating team,” said an EU official who added that time was running out to negotiate a complex legal treaty that is expected to exceed 400 pages.

“We’ve had the whole summer completely wasted, a cabinet that doesn’t understand how negotiations work, a prime minister who I think doesn’t understand how negotiations work – because he has the wrong impression he can shoot to negotiate at the 11th hour.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said last week he was surprised the UK was “wasting precious time” as Boris Johnson told EU leaders in June he wanted a framework agreement by July.

The class said, “If they see it won’t work, they’ll just try to make things really acrimonious.”

A British document leaked to The Sun on Sunday, warning of public unrest, shortages and price hikes in the event of a no-deal Brexit, was seen in Brussels as a sign of the government’s willingness to leave the UK’s single market ‘EU and the customs union with no agreement.

“More and more people have come to the conclusion that Brexit ideology trumps Brexit pragmatism in the UK government,” the diplomat said. “If the UK really wanted to jump off the Brexit cliff for ideological reasons, there would be no way for the EU to stop this.” If the UK’s negotiating position became “more pragmatic and realistic”, there was still a chance to save the negotiations, they added.

For the EU, “pragmatism” means accepting that free access to the single market requires common standards in the areas of the environment, state aid, worker and consumer protection – a position rejected by the United Kingdom.

With negotiations set to resume on September 7, EU sources are increasingly frustrated with UK chief negotiator David Frost. “The feeling is that David Frost is acting more like a British messenger than a British negotiator. If he does not get more negotiating space, the talks will remain in a desperate situation, ”said the European diplomat.

British officials fought back, accusing the EU of slowing progress by insisting that all difficult issues must be resolved in parallel. “The EU’s insistence that nothing can progress now until we accept the EU positions on fisheries and state aid policy is a recipe for delaying the whole negotiation at a time when time is running out for both parties, ”said a British source close to the negotiations.

“We are also faced with the EU’s frustrating insistence on parallelism, which means that it will not progress in areas outside of these ‘difficult’ ones until we move towards their position on them. . It is a sure way to delay negotiations. For our part, we are ready to stop and embark on the detailed discussions on legal texts, which is what we need now. We hope the EU will do the same. ”

It is understood that Johnson has full confidence in Frost and the British negotiating team.

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