UK won’t get out its cheque­book for flimsy EU cash de­mand

The Scotsman - - Around Scotland - By PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS West­min­ster Correspondent

EU ne­go­tia­tors have been warned the “in­flex­i­ble” guide­lines for Brus­sels talks could de­rail the Brexit process as the im­passe over the UK’S so­called “di­vorce bill” deep­ened.

Crit­i­cism from se­nior EU fig­ures over the qual­ity of the UK’S Brexit po­si­tion pa­pers drew a with­er­ing re­sponse, with a source sug­gest­ing the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s out­line for its fi­nan­cial de­mand is too flimsy to act upon.

The gov­ern­ments of the EU’S 27 mem­ber states would have to agree to re­vise the man­date is­sued to Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s Ar­ti­cle 50 task force in or­der to al­low a com­pro­mise to take place, it is un­der­stood.

Re­spond­ing for the first time to EU de­mands that could run to £80 bil­lion dur­ing “in­tense” tech­ni­cal ne­go­ti­a­tions, UK ne­go­tia­tors told Euro­pean coun­ter­parts that a Brexit bill cal­cu­lated us­ing the EU’S seven-year funding frame­work had no ba­sis in law.

How­ever, the UK ac­cepted that it faces “surviving li­a­bil­i­ties” which must be paid for whether there is a Brexit deal or not.

While UK ne­go­tia­tors are be­lieved to be op­ti­mistic of mak­ing progress on is­sues such as ci­ti­zens’ rights and the sta­tus of the Ir­ish bor­der by an Eu-im­posed Oc­to­ber dead­line, there is grow­ing con­cern that the wide gulf over money could stall talks.

Yes­ter­day the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s chief Brexit spokesman, Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt, said it would be “very dif­fi­cult” to break the dead­lock by the time 27 mem­ber states gather to de­cide whether talks can move on to the UK’S fu­ture trad­ing re­la­tion­ship and a post-brexit tran­si­tion phase.

A source fa­mil­iar with the UK’S ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion said: “The UK is not con­vinced that the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s pa­per [on the fi­nan­cial settlement] is sat­is­fac­tory.

“No­body would write a cheque on the ba­sis of the Com­mis­sion’s four-page pa­per.”

The source added: “There is some con­cern about what the UK say is an in­flex­i­bil­ity to the Com­mis­sion’s ap­proach.

“That it’s dif­fi­cult to ne­go­ti­ate with peo­ple who have per­haps not been given the flex­i­bil­ity to ne­go­ti­ate.”

EU chief ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier ap­peared to re­spond to pres­sure over his ne­go­ti­at­ing man­date, tweet­ing: “Guide­lines are de­signed for se­ri­ou­sand­con­struc­tivene­go­ti­a­tions, but we need clear UK po­si­tions on all is­sues.”

The sec­ond round of sub­stan­tive talks will close to­day with a joint press con­fer­ence by Mr Barnier and Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis, who re­turned to Brus­sels last night for talks with Bri­tish of­fi­cials.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.