Britain must pay EU bill even in 'no deal': Michel Barnier

Friday 25th January 2019 06:10 EST

Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier has warned the British government will face a multi-billion euro divorce settlement with the European Union even if it leaves the bloc without a deal. In interviews with several European newspapers, Barnier said the bill would still be settled at some point, even if London rejects the withdrawal agreement Britain signed in November and crashes out on March 29. The senior EU official said, “For the EU budget, we've always said one simple thing: the totality of the commitments made by the United Kingdom while still an EU member will respected. It will be more difficult to make them respect them in the case of a 'no deal', but we will continue to insist: These commitments are legally binding under international law and I can not imagine that Britain would not respect its commitments.”

Prime Minister Theresa May's government has not disputed that Britain owes budget contributions to cover EU spending agreed between members while Britain remained in the bloc, and approved November's divorce deal. However, the British parliament, which is currently divided between deal supporters, eurospectics who want a 'no deal' departure and pro-Europeans seeking to halt Brexit, rejected the accord.

Meanwhile, Barnier restated the consensus EU position that the withdrawal deal must stand and that it is up to May's government to find a way to save it. But he suggested that Brussels would be flexible and modify the political declaration on hopes for future ties that was agreed alongside withdrawal deal if Britain were to compromise on May's positions.

He said, “Things could start moving rapidly. This depends on the future relationship like I already said. We are ready to be more ambitious if the British decide to shift their red lines, for example by remaining in a customs union, or participating in the single market. I believe there is a readiness in London for that.”

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