After slow progress during the early rounds of last year’s Brexit talks, it is hoped Phase Two talks have got off to a better start as both sides try to determine the nature of the future UK-EU relationship.
However, David Davis’ criticism of the European Commission’s decision to release documents warning Britain could face tough sanctions if transition period rules suggests tensions remain between the two camps.
The Brexit Secretary said: “I do not think it was in good faith to publish a document with frankly discourteous language and actually implying that they could arbitrarily terminate in effect the implementation period.
“That’s not what the aim of this exercise is, it’s not in good faith, and we think it was unwise to publish that.”
Mr Barnier was in London earlier this week for a working lunch with Mr Davis, where he 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.
He told reporters: “Mrs May has asked to benefit from the single market and the customs union for a short period after this. The European Council has indicated its readiness to consider this request.
“The conditions are clear, very clear. Everyone has to play by the same rules.”
Theresa May reiterated earlier this week that Britain will “categorically” leave the customs union after Brexit, despite infighting among Tory and Labour MPs about Britain’s post-Brexit trade plans.
Meanwhile, major sticking points believed to have been discussed this week include Britain’s single market membership during the transition period, the ongoing issues surrounding the Irish border and UK plans to forge trade deals with other foreign powers.
Whether any progress has been made remains unclear.
Unlike previous press conferences, Mr Barnier will be addressing the press without David Davis by his side, allegedly because this week’s talks were mainly focused on technical issues.