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Macron warns UK and EU are 'far from agreement' on Brexit divorce bill

John Ashmore

2 min read

Emmanuel Macron has poured cold water on hopes of moving Brexit talks on to future trade, saying the two sides are “far from agreement” on the key issue of the UK’s exit payment.


The French president's contrasted with European Council president Donald Tusk, who said EU members had given the "green light" to the next phase of negotiations.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels this lunchtime, Mr Macron said: "Michel Barnier, who is conducting the negotiations, has highlighted the fact that while the negotiations have made progress, there remains a substantial effort for the UK to make on the financial issue. 

"We are far from agreement and while we wish - as Prime Minister May set out in her Florence speech - to be sure that no one will pay any more or receive any less than they should, and that the UK will honour its commitments as an EU member, today we are far from having reached the financial agreement to proceed to phase two [of negotiations]."

He added that the two sides were "not halfway" to agreement on the divorce bill.

Given Theresa May has so far offered €20bn to cover the UK's EU budget commitments, Mr Macron's comment suggests he thinks the final bill should be over €40bn.

In her own press conference this morning, the Prime Minister said her team would go through its financial commitments "line by line" to come to an agreement.

TUSK POSITIVE ON TALKS

In a boost for the Prime Minister, Mr Tusk said earlier that her speech in Florence last month had given "new momentum" to talks and that reports of a deadlock had been "exaggerated".

Although the EU27 remain of the view that "insufficient progress" has been made at this stage to move the talks on, the former Polish prime minister said they would begin preparing for the next stage of negotiations.

"Today the council has agreed to start internal preparatory discussion in relation to the framework for the future relationship and on transitional arrangements," he told reporters.

"It is clear that this would not be possible without the new momentum given by the Florence speech of Prime Minister May.

"I would like to reassure our British friends that in our internal work we will take account of proposals presented there. So the negotiations go on and we will continue to approach them positively and constructively, and as we are all working actively on a deal, I hope we will be able to move to the second phase of our talks in December."

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