German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth expressed his frustration with the Brexit negotiations, in a radio interview with Deutschlandfunk on Friday morning.
The politician from the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) told the public broadcaster that the talks over the past few months “haven’t made any progress.”
Although unwilling to lay the blame directly, he said that he was under the impression that “there is little willingness, especially in London, to compromise on the already concluded and agreed upon positions between the UK and the EU.”
With a weary sigh, he told the interviewer: ”I don’t know what to tell you anymore — you’ve heard it a hundred times.”
Concerns over Northern Ireland
Clearly showing his frustration with the British side of negotiations, the minister said he and EU colleagues wanted a deal, “but not at any price.” He said there were red lines that the EU was not prepared to cross.
The main issue that he stressed was the situation in EU member state Ireland where there were serious concerns about the border situation and the future of the Good Friday agreement. “We must not risk the peace in Northern Ireland,” he stated.
The Internal Market Bill, voted on by the British parliament in September, had caused unrest in the EU, especially with regards to Ireland. Roth expressed his clear dismay at Johnson’s manner of negotiating and rejection of previous agreements.
Still hopeful for ‘constructive’ talks
The minister called the working atmosphere in the EU negotiating team “constructive” and was hopeful that some kind of agreement would be reached by the end of the year. He wasoptimistic that the last stage of talks could be carried out constructively. This would be an important step in helping overcome all the current crises.
“A reasonable agreement isn’t just in the interest of the UK, but it’s also in the EU’s interest,” he said.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also optimistically hinted at a possible agreement in an interview on BBC radio on Friday. “The issues are very narrow now in terms of there’s only really two issues at stake, so a deal should be able to be done but it must require goodwill on both sides,” he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that the EU should also compromise in order to reach a final agreement with the UK.