UK to agree Brexit divorce bill before trade talks – EU sources


Michel Barnier and David DavisImage copyright Reuters
Image caption EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (left) and UK Brexit Secretary David Davis confirmed the start of talks

The UK has agreed to sort out its EU “divorce bill” and citizens’ residence rights before starting Brexit trade talks, EU sources have told the BBC.

This is the sequence of events that EU negotiators wanted – the UK had been hoping talks on a trade deal could be carried out at the same time.

Brexit negotiations are due to start on Monday in Brussels but that will be the only day of talks next week.

The talks are set to continue every month throughout the summer.

The EU will aim to see if “sufficient progress” has been made by October to move on to the next phase of negotiations, sources told the BBC’s Europe correspondent Damian Grammaticas.

Monday’s talks between Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU negotiator Michel Barnier follow preliminary negotiations in Brussels between officials.

Mr Davis has said the UK will pay what was legally due, in line with its rights and obligations, but “not just what the EU wants” following reports the “divorce bill” could be 100bn euros (£87bn).

Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said there was no desire to punish the UK but “its accounts must be settled”.

“There is no Brexit bill. The final settlement is all about settling the accounts,” he said last month.

Both sides have said settling the question of whether EU citizens living in the UK, and British expats in EU countries, will have the right to remain after Brexit is a top priority.

But UK ministers had been hoping talks on a post-Brexit trade agreement and Britain’s future relationship with the bloc could get under way

In Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter triggering Article 50, she states: “We believe it’s necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.’

But European Council president Donald Tusk and other senior EU officials have consistently ruled out parallel talks.


Analysis by BBC Europe correspondent Damian Grammaticas

We now know that at precisely 11:00 BST on Monday morning, almost exactly a year after the Brexit referendum, the all important exit negotiations will begin.

It’s been confirmed that they will start with talks between David Davis representing the UK and Michel Barnier for the EU side.

The EU has pressed for openness and a press conference is expected at the end of the first day.

After that, an EU source said, there will be one week of face-to-face negotiations every four weeks throughout the summer.

And the source told the BBC that it was understood the talks would broadly follow the EU’s preferred sequence, dealing with issues of citizens’ rights and a framework for calculating outstanding financial liabilities before moving on, possibly later in the year, to deal with the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40303761

EU countries have said they will only move on if they believed sufficient progress had been made in the first phase of talks.

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