The EU has insisted Britain cannot cherry pick from parts of the single market which will require the UK to stick by the bloc’s common rules, common court, and abide by its four principles on the free movement of people, goods, capital and services.
Theresa May has said the UK not be a part of the internal market and customs unions, leaving an “ambitious” free trade agreement on the lines of that signed between the EU and Canada as the only alternative relationship the EU is willing negotiate.
But Mr Barnier said the EU would drop its insistence if the government shifted its position.
“I am ready to adapt our offer should the UK’s red lines change” said Mr Barnier.
The former French foreign minister also insisted that the EU’s backstop plan to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the absence of a deal did not mean undermining the territorial integrity of the UK.
The backstop would keep the territory of Northern Ireland inside the EU’s regulatory orbit, creating an effective border between mainland Britain and Ireland.
“We are not asking for any new borders between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. All or parts of the backstop can be replaced by a future EU UK relationship” said Mr Barnier.
“We must all de-dramatise this backstop”.
After today’s Chequers meeting, the UK is expected to publish a White Paper on its Brexit strategy next Thursday. Mr Barnier said he hoped the proposal would “facilitate both the UK internal debate and the negotiation with us.”
“My goal has always to find an agreement with the UK not against the UK”, he said.
Mr Barnier said his negotiating team would look “carefully, precisely, and concretely” at the White Paper when it is published.
“I have real respect for Theresa May and I know her daily work is not easy”, he said.
Although the EU27 has managed to maintain rare unity in its negotiation position for the last 18 months, Horst Seehofer, Germany’s interior minister, last week wrote to the European Commission warning Brussels not to put the lives of citizens at risks over Brexit.
Responding to the letter on Friday, Jean-Claude Juncker, said the commission would stick to the negotiating guidelines it has from EU governments.