Britain's post-Brexit blueprint raises key questions: Barnier

Chief EU negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier said Britain's economic blueprint after leaving the bloc raised key questions

Britain's new Brexit blueprint raises key questions about future economic ties with the European Union, the EU's top negotiator Michel Barnier said Friday amid fears time was running out for a withdrawal deal.

Barnier said the blueprint also had good points after he discussed it with Britain's new Brexit negotiator, named after a rebellion against Prime Minister Teresa May.

"On the future economic partnership, the white paper (blueprint) raises three sets of questions," Barnier told a press conference after consultations with EU ministers.

He said he would ask the British government whether the blueprint met EU guidelines, including on the movement of goods, capital, people and technology.

He also asked whether the blueprint supported the integrity of the EU single market and the autonomy of European decision-making.

But he said the blueprint contained "several elements for a constructive discussion" on the political declaration for the future ties.

These include a proposal for a free trade agreement and commitments for a level playing field as well as a broad "convergence of views" for future security cooperation.

Britain is set to leave the bloc on March 30, but the two sides want to strike an agreement by late October in order to give parliaments enough time to endorse a deal.

Britons voted to leave the 28-nation bloc in June 2016, but negotiations were only launched a year later and have bogged down frequently since then.

Many in Europe are concerned about the slow pace of talks against the backdrop of political discord in Britain, including the rebellion against May over her blueprint.

"Time is running out. The clock is ticking. That is why I'm a little bit nervous," Germany's European affairs minister Michael Roth said in Brussels on Friday.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, published a document on Thursday urging the remaining 27 member states and businesses to "step up preparations" for all outcomes, including the lack of deal.

It warned of disruptions, including to business supply chains.

Chief EU negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier said Britain's economic blueprint after leaving the bloc raised key questions