07:30 GMT +321 October 2018
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    A pro-European Union,(EU), anti-Brexit demonstrator holds the EU and UK flags outside the Houses of Parliament, in central London on January 22, 2018

    Brexit Minister 'Surprised' by EU's Claims About Transition Period Uncertainty

    © AFP 2018 / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS
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    The European Union and the United Kingdom still disagree on several issues on the post-Brexit transition period, if these disagreements persist the agreement on the period is "not a given," EU negotiator Michel Barnier said Friday.

    Britain has responded to Barnier's statement, with its Brexit minister David Davis saying he was surprised to hear that the EU's negotiator was unclear on Britain's demands in any transition period.

    "We are seeking a time-limited period that maintains access to each other's markets on existing terms," Davis added.

    Earlier in the day, Michel Barnier stated that the sides disagreed on several issues, including citizens’ rights and the application of European rules during the transition and if these disagreements persist, "the transition is not a given."

    READ MORE: Britain Must Play by EU Rules Over Brexit Transition or Else, Analyst Warns

    The EU negotiator stressed that "the UK must accept all the rules and the conditions right until the end of the transition, and must also accept the inescapable consequences of its decision to leave the European Union."

    Barnier also noted that he did not understand the British negative reaction to a draft EU transition agreement that implied sanctions for Britain in case the country is in breach of the terms of the deal. He pointed out that it was common for international agreements to have a serious enforcement mechanism, adding that "there is no desire to punish."

    On Wednesday, the EU published a draft agreement which presupposes that Brussels will be able to slap sanctions on Britain, including freezing its single market access, if London fails to stick to the transition period-related deals.

    READ MORE: 'I Will Fight for EU Renewal as Foreign Minister' — Germany's Schulz

    This week, Britain and the European Union has been holding talks on a transition period which would last from the country's withdrawal from the union in March 2019 to the end of 2020. The transition time is believed to ease for the UK the process of leaving the EU, as the country will enjoy the access to the European single market, but at the same time will have to abide by the EU laws. Last week, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that an agreement on the transition period within the process of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union would be clinched "in seven weeks time."

    In December, the sides finished the first phase of negotiations. The second phase of the talks, which the sides are engaged in now, is dedicated to the transition period in EU-UK relations after Brexit, and their future long-term trade and security cooperation.

    READ MORE: Abandon Project Fear! Brexit May Still Greatly Benefit Britain

    Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union started in June 2017, a year after Britain held the Brexit referendum and UK Prime Minister Theresa May officially invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, launching the country's EU withdrawal process. The talks are due to be completed by the end of March 2019.

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    Brexit, deal, transition period, EU, Michel Barnier, United Kingdom
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