European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker joined MEPs along with the EU’s Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Strasbourg plenary to debate the current state of talks between the EU-27 and the UK, four rounds after talks have started in Brussels.

As for the EU executive chief, president Juncker reiterated the EU’s stance that it’s too early to move onto trade discussions because there hasn’t been sufficient progress on separation issues, such as citizens’ rights and the UK’s financial settlement.

As for the UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in Florence, Juncker suggested that it “struck an optimistic tone” and was “conciliatory”. However, the Commission president repeated that sufficient progress on priority issues has not yet been made, and that “speeches are not negotiating positions”.

‘The devil will be, as always, in the detail’

As for the initial guarantees that the EU seeks before moving to the next level of talks, Juncker said that guaranteeing a role for the EU’s Court of Justice (ECJ) is “indispensable” and still on the table. “I am pleased that Prime Minister May and her team recognise that the UK has financial obligations which it must respect,” said Juncker. “The devil will be, as always, in the detail. But the taxpayers of the EU27 should not pay for the British decision,” he added.

As for Ireland, “we can only talk of solutions that fully respect EU law and the Good Friday Agreement,” said Juncker, denying to go to much more detail as negotiations continue next week, leaving the floor to Barnier to inform MEPs thoroughly.