May wants to speed up Brexit negotiations
UK dismisses report that London is ready to pay up to €54bn EU bill
8 September, 2017
The British government wants to intensify Brexit talks and move faster than the current rate of negotiations in Brussels, a spokeswoman for PM Theresa May said last week. “We are ready to intensify negotiations. Nothing has been formally agreed but that is something that we can discuss. Typically, with negotiations, as time goes on you see the pace pick up,” she pointed out.
Last week, the third round of Brexit talks ended in a stalemate with the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier saying the two sides “did not make any decisive progress,” after four days of meetings. His British counterpart David Davis acknowledged there were still “significant differences to be bridged,” especially over a financial settlement on what Britain owes the bloc.
The slow speed of negotiations has already worried MEPs with EP Brexit Coordinator Guy Verhofstadt claiming that this is one of the reasons for the lack of progress on several crucial topics. During a debate with the Constitutional Affairs Committee last Monday, he expressed concerns over the UK's attempts to question the “exit bill” and highlighted the importance of living up to previous economic commitments.
Verhofstadt, however, acknowledged some positive developments in the field of safeguarding citizens' rights, for instance on health care, social security coordination and frontier workers, but stressed that the British government's offer to provide EU citizens in the country with a “settled status” is not acceptable, since it would cause a tremendous administrative burden for a lot of people.
Meanwhile, the UK's Brexit negotiator has denied a newspaper report that PM Theresa May is somehow willing to pay a £50bn (€54bn) “divorce bill” as part of the financial settlement with the EU, while verbal duelling escalated over the weekend between negotiators. David Davis told the BBC that the Sunday Times report was “nonsense” and “completely wrong”. He reiterated the UK's line that there was no legal obligation for the UK to pay for EU projects after leaving the bloc, but said there were “moral or political” reasons to agree on an exit bill.
Davis insisted that there has been progress, citing the example of health care rights for Brits living in the EU. “The Commission puts itself in a silly position when it says nothing has been done when really important things have,” he said, adding that “we put people before process, what they are in danger of doing is putting process before people.” The British negotiator accused the EU of playing “time against money” and putting pressure on the UK to make concessions on the financial bill.