Britain and the EU have reached agreement on a Brexit divorce bill which is likely to finally total around 50 billion euros, British newspapers reported on Tuesday, potentially heralding a breakthrough in the negotiations.
A deal on the bill would signal that London and Brussels are moving much closer to an agreement at a Dec. 14-15 summit to advance to a new phase in their negotiations and discuss their post-Brexit trade relationship.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper said an agreement in principle had been reached over the EU’s demand for a 60 billion euro financial settlement. It said the final Brexit bill, which was deliberately being left open to interpretation, would be between 45 and 55 billion euros.
A government official cast doubt on the reported numbers, saying: “I do not recognise this account of the negotiations”.
The Financial Times said Britain had agreed to assume EU liabilities worth up to 100 billion euros, but said net payments over many decades could fall to less than half that amount.
Britain’s Brexit ministry said “intensive talks” were continuing to take place in Brussels and the two sides were trying to find a way to “build on recent momentum in the talks” to take them to the next stage.
The amount of money the UK will pay as part of Brexit has been one of the main sticking points in the first round of negotiations with the EU.
In September Theresa May suggested the UK was willing to pay about 20bn euros, and the EU has been calling for its offer to be increased.
The UK is hoping to move on to talking about trade but the EU will only do this when it deems “sufficient progress” has been made on three areas – the so-called divorce bill, the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit and the Irish border.
The EU says any British move needs to come by around that date if leaders at the Dec. 14-15 summit are to be able to endorse a move to discussions on future trade relations.