U.K. Brexit Negotiators Are Competent, Lack Orientation, EU Says

(Bloomberg) -- A senior European Union Brexit negotiator praised the skills of her British counterparts, while shifting blame for the meager progress in separation talks to Theresa May’s government.

“We have very competent negotiating partners,” said Michel Barnier’s deputy Sabine Weyand. “But what they often lack is a clear political orientation, and that’s because the political discussion in the U.K. isn’t over,” Weyand said on Friday at an event connected to the Munich Security Conference.

The European Commission says that Brexit negotiations cannot advance before the U.K. offers more clarity on the kind of relationship it seeks after it withdraws from the bloc. It has also accused the the British of attempts to “cherry pick” perks stemming from EU membership, while dodging the strings attached to EU rules.

“They don’t know what version of Brexit a majority stood for,” Weyand said in a thinly veiled scolding of the U.K. political establishment. “The remaining time is short, but we need clarity,” the German official said.

A mutually agreed March deadline to settle terms of a transition period following Brexit is at risk, as the two sides remain at loggerheads over the rights of citizens who arrive in the U.K. after March 2019, the role of the European Court of Justice in enforcing the withdrawal agreement, and on whether the U.K. will have any say in EU rule changes that affect it during the transition period.

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