BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain rejects the suggestion by the European Union that it has not engaged with Brussels on talks over a future relationship, a British source said on Friday.
“We don’t recognise the suggestion that we’ve not engaged, we’ve been engaged in talks pretty consistently for many months now,” said the source, on condition of anonymity.
“The problem is the EU seems to define engagement as accepting large elements of their position rather than being engaged in discussions.”
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday after talks in London that the 27-nation bloc Britain left on Jan. 31 was stepping up plans for a no-deal Brexit at the end of this year because trade talks had made little progress.
He said Britain had “not engaged in a reciprocal way on fundamental EU principles and interests”.
The UK source said Britain had proposed “robust, open and fair” guarantees for a level-playing field on competition, and said it was “baffled” by suggestions that it had not engaged on other issues such as dispute settlements and law enforcement.
The lack of progress in talks on the relationship between the EU and the UK after a status-quo transition period ends on Dec. 31 came against a backdrop of tension over the British government’s plans to break terms of its Withdrawal Agreement.
The EU has given Britain an end of September deadline to make a u-turn and respect the treaty, but Britain has said it will press on with its proposed internal market bill because its parliament is sovereign above international law.
Reporting by John Chalmers
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