The first round of Brexit discussions over the UK’s transitional period concluded today, but it is understood the UK was keen to extend talks over next week.
However, this was refused by the European Commission, who has persistently insisted that Britain should “clarify” its Brexit position.
So much so, Brussels has even “cancelled” the latest round of talks, due to take place on February 19 and 20.
Senior UK officials told Politico.co.uk the EU is “refusing” to speed up Brexit talks despite the nation wanting to “move at pace”.
One said the UK was seeking “continuous” talks and are “ready to negotiate”.
They added: “It seems the Commission are refusing to do so.”
Another said: “We’re ready to work at pace across all issues, implementation period, separation issues and future, but it seems this is not being reciprocated at the moment.”
The news comes as the EU’s chief Michel Barnier today threatened the EU may reject a transitional deal over “substantial” disagreements.
Mr Barnier said that three “substantial” disagreements remain with the UK over plans for a transition period after Brexit, adding: “If these disagreements persist the transition is not a given.”
Despite UK hopes of being able to gradually break free from Brussels during the transition period, Mr Barnier said that Britain must accept all EU rules and obligations “until the end of the transition” in order to secure an agreement, adding: “Time is short and we haven’t a moment to lose if we want to succeed.”
He said “time was short” and he wanted to discuss Britain’s future relationship with the EU as “soon as possible”.
Mr Barnier has just finished talks with David Davis to discuss Phase Two of Brexit as both sides try to determine the nature of the future UK-EU relationship.
The Eurocrat this week told the Government “the time has come to make a choice” as he issued a major warning about “unavoidable” trade barriers if the UK quits the customs union.