06:34 GMT +316 December 2019
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    A sign for a Brexit auction is seen at sunset in the border town of Jonesborough, Northern Ireland, November 29, 2017

    Brussels Chides Brexit Secretary for 'Unacceptable' Remarks, Gets Reassurances

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    Brexit secretary David Davis seems to have found himself in hot water after describing last week's Brexit breakthrough deal as little more than a "statement of intent."

    An array of high-ranking EU officials, including the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt and European Chief Negotiator for the UK exiting the EU Michel Barnier, have lashed out at Brexit secretary David Davis' latest remarks on London's  concessions during the Brexit talks.

    Barnier warned that the final agreement on Brexit will only be clinched if "the final commitments taken by [UK Prime Minister] Theresa May and the British government on Friday are respected."

    "And we will be vigilant; we will not accept any backtracking from the UK," Barnier pointed out.

    A former Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, in turn, slammed Davis' statement as unacceptable and unhelpful, something that he said may "undermine the good faith that has been built during the negotiations."

    He was echoed by Manfred Weber, head of the center-right bloc in the European Parliament, who said that "by downgrading this agreement to a statement of intent, the UK government is putting our trust at risk."

    "The EU27 & UK must make it clear on Thursday that the agreement is binding for both sides," he said on his Twitter page.

    David Davis was quick to tweet that it was "pleasure, as ever, to speak to my friend [Guy Verhofstadt]; we both agreed on the importance of the joint report."

    "Let's work together to get it converted into legal text as soon as possible," Davis added.

    Late last week, he said that the latest joint deal between the UK and the European Commission was "more a statement of intent than it was a legally enforceable thing."

    The remarks came after London and Brussels announced a much-anticipated breakthrough in Brexit talks, which paved the way for the two sides to shift to the second phase of talks, related to future trade relations.

    READ MORE: UK Presents EU With Non-Binding Post-Brexit Trade Deal

    During the talks within the final round of the first phase of Brexit, Theresa May, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier had to agree on the basic terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

    These included the issue of Northern Ireland's borders, Britain's financial payments to its European partners and the rights of EU citizens in Britain after Brexit.

    READ MORE: 'Breakthrough We Needed': UK, EU Brexit Talks Move Forward

    Media reports have meanwhile cited a high-ranking EU source as saying on condition of anonymity that the Brexit talks' second stage is scheduled to kick off already in January 2018. High on the agenda will reportedly be the issue of the transitional period. During a referendum on June 23, 2016, about 51.9 percent of British voters said "yes" to their country leaving the bloc.

    trust, deal, talks, Brexit, EU, European Commission, Michel Barnier, David Davis, Guy Verhofstadt, Britain
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