DOMINIC RAAB called the conclusions of the EU Council Summit “disappointing” after the heads of state and government of the member states demanded that the UK drop its red lines on the trade deal in order to reach a compromise before the deadline.
EU Council leaders gave a damned assessment of the Brexit talks at their last summit, claiming that insufficient progress had been made to reach an agreement on key areas of a level playing field, government and fisheries. The UK has been asked to take the necessary steps to close a deal before the December transition period. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab warned BBC Radio 4 that “flexibility and political will” would be required from member states to reach an agreement on the line.
He said: “We know that Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council, spoke to the Prime Minister and committed herself to intensifying the talks.
“The European Council conclusions published this week did not refer to it.
“They also suggested that all future compromises must come from the UK.
“There is a different, smoother, more flexible language that comes from certain courts in Brussels, but I have to say that these conclusions surprise me a little.”
Mr. Raab continued: “There is an agreement, but there has to be flexibility on both sides.
“There has to be energy, goodwill and political will on both sides.
“We said we would wait and see very carefully, soberly, without raising the temperature, to see what the council said.
“The Prime Minister will say more today, but I can tell you that we are surprised by the attitude and disposition of the European Council.”
In early September, Boris Johnson set a deadline for the October 15 EU summit to close a deal.
He had said, “If we can’t come to an agreement by then, I don’t see a free trade agreement between us and we should both accept that and move on.”
Today host Mishal Husain urged the Secretary of State whether this meant Britain would back off the talks.
Mr. Raab told the audience: “Of course there is a natural deadline, we have to give security to companies and services.
“We have narrowed the issues down to fishing and level playing field, but they are important principles.
“I am surprised and disappointed at the lack of flexibility and will that at least seems to have emerged from the European Council.
“We have always said that there has to be an agreement, but it has to require flexibility and pragmatism on both sides. The European Union seems to be missing something. “
The Prime Minister is expected to issue a statement on the Brexit negotiations today.