At the close of the EU-27 segment of the General Affairs Council on May 14 Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva told journalists that the European Union’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has seen “no significant progress” since March in his negotiations with the UK over the specifics of Britain’s withdrawal, as well as what the future framework of UK-EU relations will look like, or a solution on how to resolve border issues between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which as a contingent part of the UK will no longer be a part of the EU in May 2019.
Zakharieva, who chaired the meeting as part of Bulgaria holding the six-month rotating presidency, said that the ministers are looking forward to more intensive engagement by the UK government in the coming weeks.
“October is only five months from away, but and some key issues related to the withdrawal agreement need to be settled. In June, we need to see substantive progress on Ireland, on governance…on all remaining separation issues,” said Zakharieva.
Speaking at a separate event, Barnier said that robust talks on the future relationship had not started, even though they were green-lighted in March. “There is still a lot of uncertainty. Negotiations on the future with the UK have not started yet. We have only had first exploratory discussions,” he said.