EU wants £49 billion Brexit divorce bill from UK

EU wants £49 billion Brexit divorce bill from UKThe EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will tell British government to hand over £49 billion ($61 billion) as part of its divorce from the 28-nation bloc, according to The Business Insider on Friday.

The figure was reportedly agreed after a meeting between Barnier and representatives from other EU member states on Monday.

Germany and France allegedly wanted the divorce bill to be over £59 billion but agreed on a compromise.

Barnier is also set to tell Theresa May's government that it cannot expect to negotiate a new trade relationship with the EU until terms of the initial divorce, including the multi-billion pound bill, have been agreed by all parties.

This particular demand comes as no real surprise given that it has been the position of numerous senior EU figures since the June referendum. However, May and her team were still hopeful of holding divorce and trade talks in parallel.

Barnier spoke about charging Britain nearly £50 billion for"outstanding liabilities" in December. May and the British negotiating team are set to dispute this demand when talks officially get underway.

Brexit Secretary David Davis is preparing to hold at least two weeks of talks with Barnier to try and negotiate a revised figure, sources close to the minister say.

The Sky News report adds that the EU will inform May that talks regarding the status of EU nationals living in Britain and British expats living elsewhere in the 28-nation bloc will have to begin from a "ground zero" position.

This will frustrate the Conservative prime minister, who had hoped that the reciprocal rights of both EU citizens and Brits abroad would be treated as a top priority and confirmed as soon as practically possible.

These new developments come just weeks before May is set to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and enter talks with EU leaders over the terms of Britain's departure. MPs voted overwhelmingly to pass the Brexit bill this week, meaning the prime minister now just needs the Lords' approval before initiating Britain's formal exit.

May has confirmed that she intends to end Britain's membership of the European Single Market, remove Britain from the customs union, and end the country's affiliation with the European Court of Justice.

However, in a White Paper published last week, she confirmed that Britain would still pay "appropriate" monetary contributions to the EU after leaving 28-nation bloc and the desire for a transitional deal means Britain will likely end up continuing to accept the free movement of people until at least 2019.
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