“Lunch was good and we had constructive talks, not the first time or the last time,” Barnier told reporters outside the residence of the UK’s permanent representative in Brussels.
When asked whether progress was being made on the opening withdrawal issues, and if “the ball [is] in your court”, Barnier responded: “We are working. Brexit is not a game. Don’t forget it.”
May had made her tennis analogy in a statement to MPs on Monday, when she suggested it was up to Brussels to make the next move following a series of concessions by the British.
The Danish finance minister, Kristian Jensen, has also said the row over the Brexit bill is part of a game. “In any political negotiations, there is not enough time, not enough money, not enough this, not enough that. This is part of the game,” he said in a Guardian interview.
His comments were dismissed by the European commission, and there appears little sign that the EU is preparing to move the talks on from the opening withdrawal issues.
On the most troublesome issue of the financial settlement, the UK has said it is not, at this stage, willing to make any further offer beyond €20bn to ensure no member state loses out in the two years after the UK leaves. The EU has said this position is insufficient to give it confidence to move on to trade talks.
Davis and Barnier lunched on pan-fried sea bass with sautéed bacon, followed by roast fillet of Angus beef, with a dessert of pear and chocolate soufflé, accompanied by English and French wines.
The two sides are not due to sit down to negotiate on Wednesday, although both sides insisted they would do so if the other party was available.
Asked why the day had been left blank, the European commission’s spokesman said the timetable was set in order to fit in with the availability of the British negotiating team.
In response, a spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the EU said: “The talks this week were a mutually agreed programme designed to give both sides the best chance to make progress. We have always been clear that we are ready to negotiate at any time.”
The European parliament’s Brexit coordinator briefed MEPs on the chamber’s budget committee earlier in the day, and warned of his particular concern about the lack of progress on the issue of the Irish border.
This article was written by Daniel Boffey in Brussels, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 10th October 2017 15.33 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010