The EU’s chief negotiator has warned that the union is drawing up contingency plans in case of a “no deal” Brexit.
Michel Barnier said that the collapse of talks with the UK was a “possibility” though not his preferred option.
He told French newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche: “It’s not my option, but it’s a possibility.
“Everyone needs to plan for it, member states and businesses alike. We too are preparing for it technically.
“A failure of the negotiations would have consequences on multiple domains.”
Negotiations to unravel more than 40 years of union have stalled, and Britain may miss a December deadline to move the talks to a discussion of future trade ties, which businesses say is vital for them to make investment decisions.
The key sticking point is the financial settlement the UK is prepared to offer as part of the divorce deal. Last week, Barnier said Britain had two weeks to spell out how far it would “honour its obligations” to break the deadlock.
But Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Sunday said Britain will not offer a figure for how much it believes it owes the EU.
Davis told Sky News the EU had agreed Britain would not need to offer “a number or a formula” for the financial deal when London accepted the bloc’s schedule for the talks - first a discussion about the divorce and second, about future trade ties.
“In every negotiation, each side tries to control the timetable. The real deadline on this is, of course, December,” Davis said, referring to the next EU summit when Britain hopes the bloc will launch the next phase of the talks.
″(British taxpayers) would not want me to just come along and just give away billions of pounds. So we’ve been very, very careful, and it’s taking time and we will take our time to get to the right answer.”
Prime Minister Theresa May says she cannot offer a figure for the financial settlement until her government knows what the future relationship will be. But she also does not want to inflame Brexit campaigners who have suggested Britain walk away.
Barnier also told Journal du Dimanche that Britain had to detail which financial commitments it would honour.
“Theresa May has committed to paying the contributions of 2019 and 2020, as well as other commitments, without specifying which ones,” Barnier said.
“The European taxpayer should not pay the price of a decision made ... by the United Kingdom.”
The two sides must also reach agreement on the UK border with EU member Ireland, something that Irish officials say is still a long way off.