Barnier and his British counterpart, Brexit Secretary David Davis, told reporters there had been some progress this week on the other two issues around Britain's March 2019 withdrawal from the bloc on which the EU demands "sufficient progress" before it will agree to discuss a transition and future relationship.
With concern mounting about the possibility they might run out of time for any deal, Davis renewed his call for EU leaders to give a green light to trade talks after they meet Prime Minister Theresa May at a summit in Brussels next Thursday.
Barnier made clear, however, that despite new momentum from concessions given by May in a speech at Florence last month, British proposals on expatriate citizens' rights and the Irish border still failed the EU test, while London's refusal to spell out a detailed cash offer was "very worrying" for business.
May said then that the other 27 countries would not lose out financially from Brexit in the current EU budget period to 2020 and that Britain would honour commitments -- but Barnier saidLondon was failing to say exactly what it was ready to pay.
"Regarding that question, we are at an impasse, which is very worrying for thousands of projects everywhere in Europe and also worrying for those who contribute," he said.
Nonetheless, he offered hope: "I am still convinced that, with political will, decisive progress is within reach in the coming two months. With David Davis, we will organise several negotiating meetings between now and the end of the year."
With signs that nerves are fraying on both sides as less than 18-month remnains before the deadline, some hardline Brexit supporters want May to just walk out of talks. Both negotiators repeated that they were ready for any eventuality including a collapse. But, Barnier warned, "no deal would be a very bad deal".
May herself said there had been "good progress" and welcomed Barnier's talk of further progress "over the coming weeks".
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