Barnier Faces Calls Not to Shoot Down U.K. Brexit Plan

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will be encouraged by at least some member states not to blow the U.K.’s latest blueprint for its partnership with the bloc “out of the water,” according to a European official familiar with the negotiations.

Member states are increasingly of the view that Theresa May’s policy on linking tariffs and goods regulations to those of the EU should be encouraged as a step toward a softer Brexit, and the proposals due next week should be used a jumping off point for further discussion, the official said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private.

A Commission official said Barnier would look at the White Paper when it’s published in search of proposals that might help move the negotiations along. May is hoping to get her Cabinet to agree to it on Friday night and will publish the document next week.

Still, EU diplomats remain concerned that May won’t able to deliver what has so far been trailed in the face of opposition from her own ministers, and the proposals risk being so watered down as to be meaningless.

If she can deliver, two schools of thought are at play on what happens next, the official said. Some member states want a short two-week burst of talks to see if progress can be achieved by the end of this month. Others think negotiations should be allowed to keep going until September, with leaders checking progress then. EU leaders are due to meet for a summit in Salzburg, Austria, in September.

Public declarations have so far been more negative. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said last week any proposal that split goods and services would threaten the integrity of the single market. Stefaan de Rynck, an aide to Barnier, also said this week that EU leaders were committed to protecting the "unique ecosystem," of the single market.

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