Thursday

20th Feb 2020

Reports: UK agrees to pay €50bn Brexit bill

  • May and Juncker to announce the deal in Brussels next week (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The UK has agreed to pay the EU over €50 billion for its Brexit divorce settlement, paving the way for talks on a future trade deal.

British officials told UK newspapers about the deal on Tuesday (28 November), but the precise figure varied from report to report.

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The BBC said it could be worth between €40 billion and €55 billion. The Financial Times said it would be just under €50 billion. The Telegraph said €45 billion to €55 billion. The Times said it would be between €40 billion and €50 billion, while The Guardian cited a figure of €55 billion.

The figures varied, partly, because the UK is to pay the money over the next 40 or so years rather than as a lump sum.

A UK source told The Times newspaper that when British prime minister Theresa May meets European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker next Monday to announce the agreement she will say the UK will pay the EU "when they [the bills] fall due".

That means the size of the EU bills will change over time - the cost of EU officials' pensions, for instance, will change depending on how long retired officials live.

The payments are also being spread over time, officials said, to help May defend herself against political accusations that she has sold out to EU demands.

A British government spokesman declined to confirm the reports of a Brexit deal on Tuesday.

"Intensive talks between the UK and the European Commission continue to take place in Brussels this week as we seek to reach an agreement," the spokesman said.

"We are exploring how we can continue to build on recent momentum in the talks so that together we can move the negotiations on to the next phase and discuss our future partnership," he added.

If May and Juncker agree the Brexit financial settlement next week, it could pave the way for EU leaders to open phase two of Brexit talks - on a future trade deal and on transitional arrangements after the UK leaves the EU in 2019 - at a summit one week later.

The EU has said the talks must make "sufficient progress" on three issues for that to take place - the Brexit financial settlement, the Irish border, and EU citizens' rights.

The Irish border would remain the most difficult question after the financial deal is settled.

"I think we can reach sufficient progress, but again we haven't seen anything on paper yet [on the Brexit divorce bill], so I am always extremely cautious," an EU official told The Guardian.

Analysis

Avoiding a Brexit chemical reaction

The UK's €56 billion chemicals industry was at first hoping Brexit would lead to less regulations - now it is hoping it can still access the single market.

UK has 10 days to make Brexit progress

British prime minister Theresa May was told to make progress on the financial settlement, and Ireland, before talks can move to the next phase.

Irish crisis may complicate Brexit summit

Snap elections are on the horizon in Ireland over the future of Irish PM's right-hand woman, three weeks before Irish PM is due in Brussels for a crucial Brexit vote.

Barnier: UK must come up with Ireland solution

EU Brexit negotiator tells UK to come up with solutions to the Irish border issue and prepare to include a level playing field in its future trade deal with the EU, if it is to be ratified by member states.

Tusk to show support for Ireland as Brexit deadline looms

The UK offered to pay almost everything the EU has asked for, leaving the Irish border the key issue in Brexit talks. In an attempt to isolate the Irish position, the UK hopes to achieve "sufficient progress" next week.

'We are not there yet', Barnier tells UK

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator dismissed reports on a 'deal' on the divorce bill with the UK, as the Irish border issue remains a key hurdle to move negotiations into the second phase after the December summit.

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