The European Union’s chief negotiator praised the “improved atmosphere” in the wrangling over a post-Brexit trade deal in a private meeting with MEPs. And in another boost for Britain, Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic told the European Parliament’s Brexit committee the bloc was undecided on whether to take legal action against Boris Johnson. Brussels is still locked in a row with Downing Street over its controversial plans after Michael Gove refused to scrap the Internal Market Bill, which eurocrats complain breaches last year’s divorce deal.
But the Commission has dropped an ultimatum to quit the talks unless No 10 scrapped or amended the legislation by the end of the month.
This has given Mr Barnier a renewed sense of optimism a breakthrough can be made during this week’s make-or-break round of UK-EU trade negotiations.
According to an EU source, the Brussels diplomat told MEPs both sides had been able to engage more closely on the contentious issues of fishing opportunities and state aid.
“There seems to be more engagement from the UK side and a bit more buzz around the talks,” the source told Express.co.uk.
Mr Barnier, however, admitted the deadlock was not yet broken and would require more time to overcome.
The Brussels insider added: “There has yet to have been movement on the substance.”
Mr Sefcovic was said to be “hesitant” when asked whether the EU would commit to hauling Mr Johnson before the European Court of Justice.
Despite outlining potential legal options for pursuing the UK, the top eurocrat admitted he was undecided on what action he would take.
The EU vice-president said the bloc could launch a legal challenge before the Government’s Brexit Bill is adopted but would first have to seek permission from Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
EU sources insist no decision will be made by eurocrats this week to avoid the current round of trade talks descending intro an acrimonious exchange.
Mr Sefcovic stressed to MEPs the EU would not storm out of the talks over the dispute.
But EU capitals are concerned Downing Street could use the secret trade talks to win concessions or later down the line in an attempt to blame Brussels for no deal.
A European source said: “The Brits are trying to bounce the EU into a tunnel without any light.”
The bloc wants more reassurances from Lord Frost, the Prime Minister’s Brexit envoy, that it is willing to compromise in order to reach an agreement.