EU says UK must agree divorce before trade talks

Brexit terms.
Brexit terms.

Brussels - The European Commission warned Britain Tuesday it should make an "orderly" agreement on the terms of its divorce from the EU including its exit bill before any talks on a future trade deal can begin.

"If one wants to divorce but remain friends on the basis of a new relationship, first one needs to agree on the terms of an orderly separation," commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas told reporters.

"An orderly separation where both sides honour the obligations, and then on the basis of this build a future new, good relationship."

Under the two-year exit period set out in EU treaties, a country leaving the bloc must finalise a withdrawal agreement on issues including outstanding membership costs and citizens' rights, EU officials say.

But until now Brussels had declined to say if talks on a new trade pact can take place in parallel with those on the withdrawal deal, or if the withdrawal agreement must be completed first, a process that could take months.

The withdrawal agreement includes the bill Britain must pay to leave, an EU source told AFP.

The EU has estimated Britain's departure bill at €55bn to €60bn, which covers budgetary requirements and pension liabilities, European sources said.

Separately European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans warned Britain that it could not make new trade deals with other countries like the United States until it has left the EU.

US President Donald Trump has promised to push through a deal with Britain, and is meeting Prime Minster Theresa May in Washington on Friday.

"It's a very simple legal situation, everybody can talk to everyone but you can only sign a trade agreement with someone once you've left the European Union, you can't do that before," he said at talks in Malta.

The warnings by the executive arm of the 28-nation European Union came as Britain's Supreme Court ruled that May must get parliament's approval before triggering Brexit, which she has promised to do in March.

The European Commission's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said that Britain and the EU will need to wrap up all talks by October 2018 to give the EU and national parliaments time to approve a deal within the two-year window.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
14% - 418 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
24% - 720 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 1908 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.20
(-0.25)
ZAR/GBP
20.40
(-0.01)
ZAR/EUR
18.42
(-0.06)
ZAR/AUD
11.29
(-0.13)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+0.06)
Gold
1835.48
(-0.24)
Silver
24.14
(+0.55)
Platinum
1061.00
(+3.78)
Brent Crude
48.78
(+0.95)
Palladium
2336.01
(+1.71)
All Share
59419.37
(+0.80)
Top 40
54500.04
(+0.61)
Financial 15
11646.83
(+2.17)
Industrial 25
79758.36
(+0.10)
Resource 10
57015.33
(+0.70)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo