European Commission 'agrees £48bn Brexit divorce bill'

Negotiations for a potential trade deal will only start after Brexit agreement struck, concludes bloc

Harriet Agerholm
Friday 10 February 2017 16:24 GMT
Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for the preparation and conduct of the talks with the UK
Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for the preparation and conduct of the talks with the UK (Getty)

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, is set to demand a €57bn (£48bn) payment from the UK to the leave the bloc.

The figure was purportedly agreed at a meeting of member states, although Sky News reported that France and Germany called for the UK to be charged at least €70bn.

Britain is committed to tens of billions in spending on EU-wide projects up until 2020, as well as the pensions of officials.

Negotiations for a potential trade agreement would only start when the final Brexit bill is reached, the meeting concluded.

Brexit Bill backed: Theresa May allowed to start EU exit negotiations

It has been the firm position of several senior EU figures that trade talks can only happen after an exit deal is struck and a divorce payment agreed.

Theresa May had held out hope that separate talks and trade negotiations could be held simultaneously.

Mr Barnier announced in December that the UK would be charged £50bn for “outstanding liabilities” upon triggering Article 50, which will begin formal talks with EU leaders over the terms of Brexit.

He told colleagues at the time the that UK must continue to pay “tens of billions” every year into the EU budget until 2020.

The bill includes the UK’s share of contributions to EU pensions, loan guarantees and cost of UK-based projects.

MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour to pass a Brexit bill earlier this week, keeping Ms May on track to meet her March deadline for triggering Article 50.

During the meeting it was also decided that talks for agreeing reciprocal rights for EU citizens would have to start from “ground zero”.

Ms May has come under pressure from within her own party to secure the rights of EU citizens at an early stage of the Brexit talks and has offered assurances it was a priority.

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