Britain and EU strike agreement on Brexit divorce bill

Deal means Border is biggest remaining obstacle to progressing talks to second phase

London is expected to pay more than €50 billion. Above, British prime minister Theresa May. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

London is expected to pay more than €50 billion. Above, British prime minister Theresa May. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

 

Britain and the European Union have reached agreement on the divorce bill, with London expected to pay more than €50 billion. Although the two sides have agreed a methodology to calculate how much Britain must pay as it leaves the EU, the final sum will only be agreed at the end of negotiations.

The divorce bill is one of three priorities in the first negotiating phase, along with the rights of EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU, and the impact of Brexit on Ireland. The EU insists that talks cannot move on to the next stage – the future relationship between Britain and the EU – until “sufficient progress” has been made on all three.

Theresa May’s government has agreed to honour all Britain’s financial commitments, including its share of spending commitments in the EU’s budget up to 2020 and its share of the pensions for EU officials.

The two sides are close to agreement on citizens’ rights and an agreement on the divorce bill would leave the future of the Border as the biggest obstacle in the way of agreeing next month to move on to the next phase of talks.

British, Irish and EU officials are working intensively on finding agreement on a form of words that will satisfy the EU’s – and Ireland’s – demand that Britain should give a meaningful commitment to avoiding a hard Border after Brexit.