BRUSSELS: EU President Donald Tusk warned on Tuesday that the bloc may rethink whether a Brexit deal is possible if there is no progress toward trade talks by December as hoped.
With the two sides exchanging barbs about who is to blame about the sluggish pace of the negotiations, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier separately reminded London that “Brexit is not a game.”
Tusk appeared to dash London’s hopes that EU leaders will use a summit on Oct. 19 to agree to move on from divorce talks to the next phase of negotiations, dealing with a future relationship.
He insisted that Brussels was still working toward a deal, despite British Prime Minister Theresa May saying her government is making preparations in case there is no accord when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
“We hear from London that the UK government is preparing for a ‘no deal’ scenario. I would like to say very clearly that the EU is not working on such a scenario,” Tusk told the EU Committee of the Regions in Brussels.
“We are negotiating in good faith, and we still hope that the so-called ‘sufficient progress’ will be possible by December,” he added.
“However, if it turns out that the talks continue at a slow pace, and that ‘sufficient progress’ hasn’t been reached, then — together with our UK friends — we will have to think about where we are heading.”
May told the EU on Monday that the “ball is in their court” after she unveiled a range of Brexit compromises in a speech in Florence in September, and called for a two-year transition period.