Brexit talks stumble over amount Britain owes EU
BRUSSELS — Brexit talks have hit a deadlock on the issue of Britain’s exit bill in the divorce, the European Union’s chief negotiator said Thursday, adding that the slow-moving talks won’t be broadened anytime soon to include future trade relations.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier said that despite the talks’ recent “constructive spirit … we haven’t made any great steps forward.”
On the question of how much Britain has to pay to settle its financial commitments to the bloc, he said: “We have reached a state of deadlock, which is disturbing.”
Barnier said he would not be able to recommend to EU leaders meeting next week that “sufficient progress” has been made to broaden the talks to discussing future Eu-british relations, including trade.
That can only happen, the EU has said, when there has been progress on the issues of the financial settlement, the rights of citizens affected by Brexit and the status of the Northern Ireland-ireland border.
Britain is on track to leave the 28-nation bloc in March 2019. Many businesses are worried that Britain could leave the EU without a trade deal in place, which would mean tariffs on exports from both sides.
British officials said its exit terms are intertwined with those on future relations like trade and must be discussed together.
“I hope the member states will see the progress we have made and take a step forward” next week, British Brexit envoy David Davis told reporters.
European estimates on the size of the divorce bill have varied from around $70 billion to $120 billion.