UK denies agreeing to pay EU exit bill
LONDON — The British government has denied that it has agreed on the amount of its European Union exit bill, after a report emerged that it plans offer the bloc 36 billion pounds ($47 billion).
Britain’s outstanding tab to settle commitments it made as an EU member is one of the biggest issues confronting the divorce talks. The EU said it won’t discuss future trade relations with the United Kingdom until there is progress on the bill and other key issues.
The EU has not put an official number on the size of the bill, but estimates have ranged as high as 100 billion euros.
Britain voted in a referendum last year to quit the 28-nation bloc and is due to leave in March 2019.
EU budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told Germany’s Bild newspaper in comments published on Monday that the United Kingdom would remain bound by some previous commitments to long-term projects after Brexit and “will therefore have to transfer funds to Brussels at least until 2020”.
The size of the bill is a hot political issue in Britain, with some anti-EU politicians insisting the country should pay nothing at all.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that British officials have decided to offer 36 billion pounds, or 40 billion euros, in a bid to move talks on to the key issue of trade. But Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, said “I don’t recognize” the figure.
He added that Britain was prepared to pay a “fair settlement” of its obligations.
“The prime minister made clear in the letter triggering Article 50 (the EU exit process) that the UK and the EU need to discuss a fair settlement of both our rights and obliga- tions as an EU member state.”
Oettinger said in the long term, Britain’s withdrawal will mean a loss of about 10 to 12 billion euros ($11.8-14 billion) per year to the EU budget, which will be made up through a combination of cuts and higher payments from other members.
He estimated that Germany would face an “additional single-digit billion” increase.
Britain has yet to set out what kind of transitional deal it is seeking, making estimates of the final bill difficult to calculate.
Some euroskeptics within the ruling party argue Britain should not have to pay anything at all, and any settlement perceived to be generous to Brussels could prompt revolt within the Conservative ranks.
The UK and the EU need to discuss a fair settlement of both our rights and obligations as an EU member state.” James Slack, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman
The August full moon rises above the 5th Century BC Temple of Poseidon near Athens on Monday. More than a hundred of Greece’s ancient sites and museums kept open until late Monday to allow visitors to enjoy the full moon, which is accompanied by a partial lunar eclipse.