UK FACES £50B BREXIT BILL
While there is no desire to punish Britain, EU says must deter others from following suit
THE United Kingdom will have to pay a bill of about £50 billion (RM274.4 billion) when it leaves the European Union, Commission president JeanClaude Juncker warned as Britain prepares to trigger the start of Brexit negotiations.
While there was no desire to punish Britain, the EU must deter other countries from following, said the head of the EU’s executive arm yesterday.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s government knew they would have to pay what they owed, said Juncker.
“We have to calculate what the British commitments were and then the bill has to be paid,” he said. Asked if the bill would be £50 billion, Juncker replied: “It’s around that.”
May plans to launch Britain on a two-year process of negotiations to quit the EU on March 29, by triggering Article 50 of the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty. The size of Britain’s exit bill will be among the first — and most contentious — topics for discussion, with British ministers indicating they do not believe the UK is liable for such a large sum. Juncker’s statement is the clearest indication from the commission of the size of the bill, and is in line with an estimate cited by Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern last month.
So far, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has argued that the terms of the divorce, including the size of the bill, must be settled first, before any negotiations over the new trading relationship between the UK and the EU could begin.
Britain wants talks on the exit and a new free trade deal to run simultaneously, and its argument received a boost yesterday when the Italian government said the two sets of talks could “overlap”.
The EU’s remaining 27 member states are preparing to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the bloc’s founding Treaty of Rome, without Britain, today.
Juncker insisted the EU was not “in a hostile mood” on Brexit because it wanted “a friendly relationship” with Britain.
“But I don’t want others to take the same avenue because... that would be the end.”