EU’s Barnier demands Brexit bill answer within two weeks
“Yes,” Barnier replied when asked at a press conference if that was the timeframe for Britain to give the bloc an answer on a financial settlement, which EU officials say could be up to 60 billion euros ($70 billion).
“This is absolutely vital if we are to achieve sufficient progress in December. It is just a matter of settling accounts,” said Barnier, standing alongside his British counterpart David Davis after a sixth round of Brexit negotiations ended without a breakthrough.
The EU has demanded “sufficient progress” on three key divorce issues -- the Brexit bill, the Northern Irish border and the rights of EU citizens living in Britain -- to move on to talks on a future trade deal and a transitional arrangement.
EU leaders said at a summit in October that there was insufficient movement on the separation, and postponed their decision until their next meeting in Brussels on December 14-15.
An agreement on the bill within two weeks would allow the EU time to fully prepare for the summit and to draw up documents for the next phase on future relations, EU sources said.
“On citizens’ rights we are making some progress although we need to move further on a number of points,” Barnier said.
Key sticking points remain on the rights of EU migrants to bring their families to Britain, their ability to send welfare payments to their home countries, and whether the European Court of Justice would have jurisdiction over those rights.
On Northern Ireland, Barnier said Britain needed to find a solution that would “prevent a hard border” with the Republic of Ireland while preserving the integrity of the single market.”
An internal EU paper for the talks suggested that British-ruled Northern Ireland should remain in the EU’s single market and customs union after Brexit, even though Britain itself will leave both.
Davis however insisted that “this cannot amount to creating a new border inside the United Kingdom.”