Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has criticised remarks made by EU Council President Donald Tusk which suggested the UK had not made sufficient progress in Brexit talks.
Mr Nicholson pointed out that Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in Florence last week offered a real opportunity for the EU and the UK to kick-start the negotiations.
The comments come as the fourth round of negotiations on the UK’s exit from the European Union took place in Brussels this week.
Jim Nicholson MEP said:
“Thus far, I have been disappointed with the attitude Brussels has taken in terms of these negotiations, not least in terms of abdicating all responsibility for finding a solution to the border issue. By contrast the UK Government has not been given enough credit for the work it has done already. The papers on the border with the Republic of Ireland and on customs indicated a willingness to find flexible solutions, but finding these solutions will require Brussels to actively engage, and allow future trade to be discussed in parallel.
“This week, I had hoped we would see a bit more willingness to negotiate from the EU side. For instance, in response to the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence last week, I noted Michel Barnier’s remarks were considerably more measured.
“It is therefore very disappointing that EU Council President Donald Tusk announced on the steps of 10 Downing Street this week that the UK had not yet made enough progress in negotiations. Ultimately a bad deal - or no deal - is not in the interests of either party.
“The Prime Minister’s speech was a welcome intervention and creates an opportunity for both the EU and the UK to kick start Brexit talks. That opportunity needs to be grasped soon, as 2019 is not far away.”