The European Commission chief Brexit negotiator is working on basis that Britain would have to pay a £50 billion settlement for outstanding liabilities, according to reports.
A bill worth “tens of billions of euros” will be one of “the first things coming up” in the Brexit negotiation after Theresa May triggers Article 50, an EU government minister told Sky News.
Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier has mentioned this figure to EU leaders in his tour of EU capitals.
The same figure was mentioned to Brussels based diplomats from the EU-27 in a meeting last month.
The news was communicated by Mr Barnier, but has not been circulated as a working paper yet.
Another analysis of the same liabilities by two EU finance ministries calculate a smaller but still large “bill” at around 40 billion euros, according to reports heard by Sky.
The calculation is believed to include the obligation for the UK to pay into the EU Budget until the end of 2020, having signed up to the Multiannual financial framework already, as well as the UK's share of outstanding pensions liabilities and other payments associated with loan guarantees.
The Czech Republic's Europe minister, Tomas Prouza, reportedly said the huge sums were "only things the UK has already committed itself to paying”.
When asked if British people should expect a bill worth tens of billions of pounds, Mr Prouza responded: “Definitely.
“This is what the UK has already committed to pay, and we would expect that the UK would honour its commitments. It will be one of the first issues coming up on the table.”
Downing Street said the UK would meet its obligations while it remained a member of the EU - but any financial settlement after that would be a matter for negotiation.
“Decisions on how UK taxpayers’ money is spent will be decisions for the UK to take moving forward,” a No.10 source said.
“There’s a whole range of complex issues that will need to be resolved in the negotiations.”
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