The Finnish EU presidency yesterday demanded Britain deliver a written proposal by the end of September on leaving the EU or face a no-deal Brexit, an ultimatum London immediately rejected.
The clock is ticking down on Britain’s departure from the European Union, currently set for October 31, but it appears increasingly likely it will crash out without any agreement.
A spokesman for Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne told AFP that Britain must deliver a written plan for a solution to the stalemate.
But Britain rejected the Finnish demand.
“We will table formal written solutions when we are ready, not according to an artificial deadline, and when the EU is clear that it will engage constructively on them,” a spokesman for the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
The Finnish deadline comes a day after Rinne met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, where he said the EU is unlikely to grant an extension to the current October 31 exit date, and thus avoid a no-deal exit, unless London proposes concrete measures.
The British government spokesman said however that London has submitted “a series of confidential technical non-papers” to the EU, setting out Britain’s ideas for an alternative to the customs backstop on the Irish border.
Technical “non-papers” are documents used in negotiations that do not represent a formal position.
“We have received documents from the UK and on this basis we will have technical discussion today and tomorrow on some aspects of customs, manufactured goods and sanitary and phytosanitary rules,” said Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva.
She added that the EU and British Brexit negotiators, Michel Barnier and Stephen Barclay, will also discuss Brexit in Brussels yesterday.
The UK side said it had shared with Brussels “technical non-papers which reflect the ideas the UK has been putting forward,” without going into further detail.
Andreeva added that there was no formal deadline for Britain to submit formal proposals but stressed that every day counted now as the Brexit date nears on Oct 31.