The British government should not underestimate the strength of EU unity in Brexit negotiations, France’s minister for European affairs said today.
“There should be no mistake … [EU Brexit negotiator Michel] Barnier does not represent only the EU Commission,” Nathalie Loiseau told the BBC’s Today program. “He gets his mandates from [EU] heads of state … so there would be no difference between what Barnier says and what we would say individually.”
Loiseau’s comments come as the U.K. launches a Brexit charm offensive over the summer that will see British Cabinet officials set out across the Continent to meet with their European counterparts.
The EU is “working hard” to agree a deal with the U.K., Loiseau said. But she warned that “no one in the EU” is willing to accept a bad deal and, quoting May, said no deal would be “better than a bad deal.”
She noted that “no real significant progress” has been made in talks on the withdrawal agreement, and urged the U.K. to speed up the pace of negotiations.
“We have to agree on the conditions in which we part from each other … the clock is ticking, and we are concerned,” she said, warning that there can be no transition period without a withdrawal agreement.
Asked about the possibility of the U.K. reversing its Brexit decision, Loiseau said the door would “remain open,” echoing similar statements from other EU officials. “We are not the ones who wanted to divorce from the U.K,” she added.