- European Council publishes its Brexit negotiating directives.
- Britain faces huge ‘divorce bill’ for unpaid commitments and projects.
- Brexit Secretary David Davis has threatened to walk out of talks.
- Formal negotiations are set to begin within weeks of the general election.
LONDON — The EU is demanding that Britain pays the cost of moving its agencies out of the UK after Brexit.
Britain faces a divorce bill of up to €60 billion (£52 billion) for projects and commitments made before the date Britain leaves the EU, before substantial talks on a new trade deal can begin.
However, the European Council’s negotiating directives, published on Monday afternoon, state that the UK must also “fully cover the specific costs related to [Brexit], such as the relocation of EU agencies currently based in the UK.”
Two of the EU’s most important agencies, covering banking and medicine regulations, are currently based in London.
The Brexit secretary David Davis has previously insisted that two agencies would no have to leave — something that has been dismissed in the rest of Europe.
Davis has also threatened to walk out of Brexit talks if the EU demands a figure he believes is excessive.
The Brexit secretary told the Sunday Times that he regards even “€1bn as a lot of money,” and insisted that the other 27 EU states would need to shift their expectations about what Britain will pay.
“We don’t need to just look like we can walk away, we need to be able to walk away,” he said.
“Under the circumstances, if that were necessary, we would be in a position to do it.”
The Council has also insisted that the talks should prioritise the future of EU citizens living in the UK as well as the future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Formal Brexit negotiations are expected to begin on June 19, within weeks of the general election.
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