LONDON — The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union “will take longer than initially thought,” the European Commission president has said.
Speaking in Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker said the UK will “have to pay” its financial obligations to the EU in order to move onto the second phase of negotiations.
This follows the fifth round of Brexit talks, after which the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said there was a “deadlock” in discussions over the financial settlement, and that he could not say “sufficient progress” had been made in order to move onto discussing a future UK-EU relationship.
Juncker said: “The British are discovering, as we are, day after day new problems. That’s the reason why this process will take longer than initially thought.”
“We cannot find for the time being a real compromise as far as the remaining financial commitments of the UK are concerned. As we are not able to do this we will not be able to say in the European Council in October that now we can move to the second phase of negotiations.”
“They have to pay, they have to pay, not in an impossible way. I’m not in a revenge mood. I’m not hating the British,” he added, Reuters reported.
Negotiations have advanced far slower than expected, with the European Council likely to vote that “sufficient progress” has not been made on three key issues in the first phase of talks at its meeting next week.
The three key issues are citizens’ rights, Ireland and the UK’s financial obligations to the EU, which must be partly resolved before negotiators are allowed to discuss a future trade relationship after Brexit.
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