The bloc’s chief negotiator made the conciliatory remarks after he was slapped down by officials representing the EU27 over his insistence that the UK will not get an agreement on financial services.
They came after his deputy, Belgian official Stefaan De Rynck, told an event in London earlier this week that Britain’s new relationship would be bespoke, seemingly undermining his boss.
Mr Barnier has repeatedly spoken about how the only option available to Britain is a Canada-style free trade deal because of Theresa May’s red lines over free movement and the ECJ.
In an interview this week he went further in spelling out what that would entail, in particular raising eyebrows with his comments over the lack of services access the UK can expect post-Brexit.
But member states and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker have reportedly become increasingly exasperated with the Frenchman’s off-piste remarks on trade which overstep his current mandate.
An EU official said of his remarks: “It is too early to draw conclusions on how the future relationship will look like. This will need to be discussed during the talks.”
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels today, Mr Barnier also dodged questions about his role in negotiating the shelved TTIP agreement with the United States which included an ambitious chapter on financial services.
Asked why the EU could not offer a similar deal to the UK, the Frenchman simply pointed to the fact that there are no EU trade deals currently in force with such access for services.
He said: “Logically for the economic side of our partnership we’ll be working on the basis of an FTA along the same lines as what we negotiated and signed recently with Canada, also South Korea, and Japan more recently.
“There are of course differences between these different models because each of these cooperation models each of these trade models is of course tailor-made and specific for the country with which we´re signing these agreements.
“So there are differences, but it´s the same approach the same logic underpinning these agreements and that will be the situation with the UK in the light of what they have said their position is themselves.”
The Government is apparently planning for a significant improvement on the deal the EU struck with Canada – a much smaller trading partner for the bloc – including better services provision.
Mr Barnier also boosted hopes of an orderly departure in other areas including aviation, after some Remainers apocalyptically predicted that planes would have to stop flying on Brexit day.
He said: “Of course it´s not just about trade, there are other dimensions to the future partnership which we’ll be working on from March, judicial cooperation for example, a specific agreement on aviation, also bilateral cooperation in what is such a very sensitive area as far as our citizens are concerned which is security and defence and foreign affairs.”
However, the EU’s latest proposed guidelines for the transition – published today – also contain a huge hurdle in the form of a specific clause on Gibraltar that has enraged the UK.
The bloc has reaffirmed its position that Spain will be able to veto any transition deal applying to the bloc, a position that British negotiators feel is unacceptable.