Brexit Settlement: €40 billion still not enough for EU Diplomats

It has been widely reported that the U.K. is preparing an enhanced financial offer of €40 billion in order to unlock the Brexit negotiations.  However, whilst EU diplomats gave a cautious welcome, a number have said it would not be enough to move to phase 2 talks -  and would like to push for an even higher offer.

At the time of writing, the new figure has not yet been officially announced by the U.K. government.  It would represent a significant increase on the Prime Minister’s financial offer of some €20 billion (September 2017 in Florence).

The official EU line is that it will not negotiate via the media and is waiting for a firm offer in the Brexit negotiations.  Dutch Foreign Minister, Halbe Zijlstra, at the General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels said: “I have seen a lot of signals but this has been happening for a few months now, so it has to be concrete and on the table instead of in the press.”

Other diplomats from across the EU – who did not want to be named – characterised the enhanced Brexit settlement as a step forward but not enough:

“This €40 billion could make sense only if it’s a first step with an openness to discuss further commitments.  It could be enough to say, ‘Okay, we are ready to move to phase 2’ - but only if it’s not the final figure.” said one diplomat.

“For some countries, it could be enough but I don’t see France or Italy agreeing,” said a representative of one of the larger EU countries.

A third diplomat from Central Europe is quoted as saying that there was a qualified will to move the process along: “Everyone is so desperate to move to the second stage that if this is not their final say, yes, it could be enough.” But then added that the collapse of German coalition talks means the “process is going to be increasingly driven by Paris.”  France is seen as more hardline than Germany on Brexit.

John ShuttleworthComment