Speaking to a Brexit committee in the Polish parliament, Barnier listed unity among 27 EU member states (all but Britain), and eliminating “uncertainties” as necessary conditions for success.
He added that failure to meet these terms would result in a so-called “hard Brexit”, which would mean negative consequences, affecting, for instance, the movement of people and transport, for the 27 countries remaining in the EU.
“I cannot imagine that situation and we must do everything to avoid it,” Barnier said.
He also said that without unity, the 27 would be unable to ratify a Brexit agreement, adding that such a deal cannot be improvised.
“It needs to be carefully prepared, in mutual respect, dialogue, transparency and in talks with citizens,” Barnier said.
He said that citizens were a priority, pointing out that there are 3.2 million Europeans either side of the English Channel, including more than 800,000 Poles in the UK, whose rights need to be ensured.
Barnier also said that he wants to convince the UK to see all its financial commitments through, "down to the last euro".
“We made these commitments together and we will pay them together,” he said.
Barnier indicated that deadlines were tight, as negotiations are due to start after an early general election in the UK – expected by mid-June – and Britain plans to say its final farewell around mid-2019.
“Allowing the last five to six months … for ratification by the European Parliament, the European Council and the British parliament, we should plan an end to negotiations in October 2018”.
Barnier is currently touring Europe, gauging the expectations of 27 of the bloc's countries before launching official negotiations.
An outline of Europe’s common platform is expected to be determined at an EU summit in Brussels in nine days. Then the European Commission will draw up a detailed roadmap, which should be adopted by EU member states by the end of May.
Barnier earlier met Polish deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymański, who said Poland was one of the most active countries in the lead-up to Brexit negotiations.
Szymański added: “Today was a good day from the perspective of … Polish interests, Polish expectations in terms of the upcoming negotiations”.
Barnier also spoke with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło. (vb)
Source: PAP, IAR