UK pre­pared to pay EU €40 bil­lion to set­tle its ac­counts

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

LON­DON — Bri­tain is pre­pared to pay up to €40 bil­lion ($47.1 bil­lion) to the Euro­pean Union to set­tle its ac­counts when it leaves the bloc, the Sun­day Tele­graph news­pa­per re­ported.

It is the first time the Bri­tish side has put a fig­ure on its so-called Brexit bill — although the sum falls well short of the €100 bil­lion sum dis­cussed in Brus­sels.

The news­pa­per re­port, based on un­named gov­ern­ment sources, said Bri­tain would pay this only if the EU agrees to ne­go­ti­ate the set­tle­ment as part of a deal on fu­ture re­la­tions, in­clud­ing trade.

Brus­sels has said progress must be made on the di­vorce bill, as well as the rights of Euro­pean cit­i­zens liv­ing in Bri­tain and the Irish bor­der is­sue, be­fore any talks can start on a free trade agree­ment.

Bri­tish of­fi­cials are look­ing at propos­ing a tran­si­tion deal where Bri­tain would con­tinue to make net pay­ments to the EU of 10 bil­lion euros a year for up to three years af­ter it leaves in March 2019, the Tele­graph said.

This money, paid in re­turn for con­tin­ued ac­cess to Europe’s sin­gle mar­ket, would be a “par­tial down­pay­ment” on the fi­nal bill.

The EU’s chief ne­go­tia­tor, Michel Barnier, has de­clined to pub­licly name a sum for Bri­tain’s di­vorce bill, which in­cludes its share of EU spend­ing projects al­ready agreed, as well as pen­sion con­tri­bu­tions of staff, among other ex­penses.

But he said the “method­ol­ogy” for de­ter­min­ing how much Bri­tain must pay should be worked out dur­ing the first phase of the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions, which is due to end in Oc­to­ber.

A num­ber of se­nior EU of­fi­cials have con­firmed to AFP the es­ti­mate of €100 bil­lion.

Of­fi­cials have pre­vi­ously said there is scope for pay­ing the bill in in­stal­ments, and that the total fig­ure may even­tu­ally come down be­cause of jointly-held as­sets that the EU must re­im­burse Bri­tain for.

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