Lord Frost, the Prime Minister’s European adviser, responded to the stance taken by EU national leaders at a Brussels summit on Thursday.
In a series of tweets, Lord Frost said he was “disappointed” by the summit’s conclusions and “surprised” that the bloc “is no longer determined to work” intensively “to achieve a future partnership”.
2/3 Also surprised by the suggestion that in order to get a deal all future moves have to come from the UK. This is an unusual approach to conducting a negotiation.
– David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) October 15, 2020
This came after a call for the EU’s chief negotiator to “step up” talks with the UK was taken out of the draft summit conclusions by EU leaders and replaced with “continue”.
Lord Frost added: “Also surprised by the suggestion that in order to get a deal all future initiatives have to come from the UK.
“It’s an unusual approach to conducting a negotiation. ”
Lord Frost has revealed that Mr Johnson will deliver his own reaction to the EU summit conclusions on Friday.
The prime minister has already raised the prospect of withdrawing from negotiations by setting this week’s Brussels meeting as the deadline to reach a deal.
At their summit in the Belgian capital, EU leaders called on the UK “to take the necessary steps to make an agreement possible”.
They also expressed “concern” that progress in the ongoing negotiations between the UK and the EU was “still not sufficient for a deal to be reached”.
The leaders agreed that the 27 member states and EU institutions should “step up work on readiness and readiness at all levels and for all outcomes”, before the possibility of the Brexi transition period ending December 31 without agreement on future relationship.
The leaders called on the European Commission to “timely review unilateral and time-limited emergency measures that are in the EU’s interest” due to the prospect of a no-deal outcome.
European Council President Charles Michel, at a press conference after leaders’ Brexit talks, said the bloc was “100% united”.
“We are united and determined to reach an agreement, but not at any cost,” he added.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, echoed this position and told the press conference that differences remained between the two sides on the so-called level playing field commitments, governance issues. and fishing.
He added that the EU was ready to continue negotiations “until the last possible day”.
“We want to give these discussions every chance to succeed in order to reach an agreement,” he said.
Mr Barnier also raised the prospect of a two-week extension of Mr Johnson’s October 15 deadline, adding that his team would travel to London for talks next week and host negotiations in Brussels next week. next.
He also insisted that his officials are “ready to speed up negotiations”, contrary to Lord Frost’s tweets.
The gathering of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday was interrupted by the fact that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had to withdraw from the summit after a member of her staff tested positive for coronavirus.
She posted on Twitter: “I have just been informed that a member of my front office has tested positive for Covid-19 this morning.
“I myself tested negative. However, as a precaution, I immediately left the European Council to isolate myself. ”
On the eve of Thursday’s EU summit, Mr Johnson had a telephone interview with Ms von der Leyen and Mr Michel.
During the call, the prime minister “noted the desirability of a deal” but “expressed disappointment that further progress had not been made in the past two weeks,” a door said. – speech of Downing Street.
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On Thursday, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said he thought “an agreement could be reached”, but admitted that the UK and the EU remained “miles away from one of the ‘other’ on the issue of fisheries.
“There is a lot of hard work to do and I think it will take weeks rather than days to finalize this,” he said at a meeting of the Irish parliamentary committee.
“I hope that by the beginning of November, we will be in the space of an agreement in sight. ”
On Brexit, the message from the European Union is a bit mixed – to talk about negotiations, but also to say that the compromise must come from the United Kingdom.
Analysis: is an agreement certain? Definitely not!
By Adam Parsons, Europe correspondent
Wanting more discussions, but avoiding the word “step up”. Talk about progress followed by statements of deadlock.
The only thing that united them was the expression “we want a deal but not at any cost”.
Variants of this turn of phrase came from officials and leaders, including Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, European Council President Charles Michel, and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
And yet, perhaps the most symbolic moment of that day was not what Von der Leyen said, but what she did – walk away from the meeting to isolate herself in her apartment at the top. of the Berlaymont building.
The truth is, no matter how big Brexit is, most Europeans now see it as insignificant next to the damage caused by the coronavirus.
The mood among many sources is that they want a deal not only because of the economic benefits but also to be done and done.
The big exception is French President Emmanuel Macron – who reiterated today that he would not “sacrifice” his country’s fishermen if he thought their rights were limited.
Is an agreement therefore possible? Yes. It’s possible? May be. But is it certain? Definitely not. The European Council today called on its members to “step up” preparations for a no-deal Brexit.