UK 'will not face early divorce bill' in Brexit negotiations

Posted On: 
14th March 2017

The EU will not try to present the UK with a 'divorce bill' early on in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, according to reports. 

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier
Credit: 
PA

There have been suggestions the UK could be faced with a bill totalling over £50bn to cover its EU liabilities. 

They include payments on infrastructure programmes outlined in the EU's 2013 seven-year budget, as well as outstanding pensions liabilities for EU staff. 

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The EU's lead Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has passed a message to David Davis' Brexit department that the two sides can reach a broad agreement on the exit payment and then get on with further negotiations, BBC Newsnight reports. 

The exact sum will then be decided by the EU's Court of Auditors towards the end of the two-year process - although a hefty bill is likely to arouse huge opposition from eurosceptic Tory backbenchers. 

That paves the way for a twin-track negotiation, with discussions on the exit deal happening in tandem with negotiations on the future EU-UK trading relationship.

The talks should kick off shortly, after Parliament gave its backing to the Government's two-line bill to let Theresa May trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. 

Downing St made clear yesterday that the process would not kick off until the end of this month, rather than immediately this week. 

The former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb, who recently met Mr Barnier, explained how he saw the negotiations proceeding.

"Basically what's going to happen is that Article 50 is triggered and a few key principles will be agreed - say the principles of finance or the principles for EU citizens and British citizens in Europe - the big things.

"And then at the same time in parallel you can start negotiations on a future relationship."