Brexit talks to resume as UK deal likely to favor EU
LONDON (AP) — Exit talks between Britain and the European Union will resume next week, the two sides announced Tuesday, as U.K. Brexit chief David Davis said the divorce settlement is likely to favor the EU financially.
The EU and Britain’s Brexit department said in a joint statement that the two sides will meet Nov. 9 and 10 for a sixth round of negotiations.
Five previous rounds overseen by Davis and chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier have failed to resolve big differences on key issues, including the amount Britain must pay to settle its financial obligations to the 28-nation bloc. Britain has suggested a figure of about 20 billion euros ($23 billion), while the EU side puts it at 60 billion euros ($70 billion) or more.
The U.K. is due to leave the EU in March 2019, and the stagnating talks have raised fears it could crash out without a deal, with huge economic and legal consequences.
Britain hopes EU leaders will declare at a meeting in December that talks have made enough progress on divorce terms to move onto future relations and trade.
Davis insisted Tuesday he is confident Britain is “on timetable” to get a good outcome by March 2019.
In a hint that Britain is preparing to raise its offer on the Brexit bill, Davis told a parliamentary committee that “the withdrawal agreement, on balance, will probably favor the Union in terms of things like money and so on.”
He added that “the future relationship will favor both sides and will be important to both of us.”
He also rebuffed allegations that Britain is unprepared for Brexit, saying the tax and customs department would recruit as many as 5,000 new staff next year to deal with expected changes.
The government also says it has committed more than 1.3 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) to cover Brexit costs until 2022.
Britain voted by 52 percent to 48 percent in June 2016 to leave the EU, and the country remains deeply divided over the issue.
On Tuesday the U.K. statistics agency said one of the chief claims by Brexit advocates during the referendum was wide of the mark.
The Office for National Statistics said Britain’s net transfer to the EU in 2016 was 9.4 billion pounds ($12.4 billion). That’s about 180 million pounds per week, around half the 350 million pounds the Vote Leave campaign said could be saved in case of Brexit and spent on health care.
That claim is seen to have boosted support for the campaign for Britain to leave the EU.