EU sources and British newspapers report that the UK has agreed to pay around 50 billion euros to settle a Brexit divorce bill. David Doyle reports.
Britain has got its cheque book out, offering to pay much of what the European Union was demanding to settle a Brexit divorce bill. That's according to EU sources and follows reports in British newspapers which valued the UK offer at 50 billion euros. That's more than double the UK's opening offer of around 20 billion euros and close to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's estimate that the UK would owe Europe in the region of 60 billion euros. The figure reflects the bulk of EU demands, including London paying a share of post-Brexit EU spending on commitments made before Britain leaves in March 2019, as well as funding EU staff pensions for decades to come. A British government official said they did not recognize accounts of the talks going on and some EU diplomats warned that Britain had yet to make a fully committed offer, and that agreement from the other 27 member states could not be taken for granted. The EU set a condition of "significant progress" on three key areas, including the divorce bill, before it would begin negotiations on a trade deal. The two other areas are protecting the rights of EU citizens in Britain, and the Irish border. And it is the latter that remains the most difficult issue, a senior EU diplomat said. Britain is yet to satisfy EU demands to clarify how it would avoid a "hard border" with customs post on land between the European Union and Northern Ireland. Many fear that would disturb a fragile peace in the British province. And it's an issue that needs to be resolved if EU leaders are to give a green light to trade talks at an EU summit on December 14. But the currency markets have responded positively. Sterling rallied around 1 percent against the U.S. dollar as investors took the reports as a sign that the risk of Britain leaving the EU without a deal had diminished.