It was meant to be a charm offensive directed at national capitals across Europe to help smooth the Brexit negotiations — but the British government’s decision to hold confidential briefing sessions for EU ambassadors in London appears to have fallen flat.
In the last two weeks, the U.K. held two such events in a bid to explain London’s negotiating positions on key issues ahead of the latest round of Brexit talks, which are now underway in Brussels. If the effort was intended to win a sympathetic ear, it flopped.
The meetings have not been officially announced, but according to six senior diplomats POLITICO spoke to who were either present at the meetings or briefed on them, the representatives of the EU27 were not impressed by what they say was a lack of detail from the U.K. And they were dismayed that a promise to provide a detailed position paper on how to calculate the U.K.’s financial obligations to the bloc once it leaves was subsequently withdrawn.
The hour-long briefings — which took place on August 17 and 24 at the U.K. Foreign Office in Whitehall — were given by Alex Ellis, director general of the Brexit department and a senior member of David Davis’ negotiating team. On the invite list for the first meeting were representatives from all EU27 countries. At the second, the invite list was extended to include Iceland and Norway.