Michel Barnier says UK must settle its accounts upon Brexit, but there won't be a penalty fee to pay

Hayley Kirton
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Barnier will lead the Brexit negotiations for the European Commission (Source: Getty)

Michel Barnier today reiterated previous statements that the UK would need to settle its books with the EU upon Brexit.

However, the man who will lead the Brexit negotiations for the European Commission added there would be no penalty fee for the country leaving the union and the UK would not be asked to pay for anything it had not previously signed on for.

"We will not ask the British to pay a single euro for something they have not agreed to as a member," he is quoted by Reuters as saying. "In the same way, the 27 will also honour their commitments concerning the United Kingdom, its citizens, companies and regions. This is the mutually responsible way to act."

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The EU's divorce negotiator warned last December the UK could be slapped with a bill for £50bn to cover items of the bloc's budget the country had already agreed to pay towards.

Barnier also today told the Committee of the Regions in the European Parliament it would be important to clarify early in the negotiations the status of Brits living in the EU, and EU citizens in Britain.

"Guaranteeing their rights as European citizens, in the long term, will be our absolute priority from the very start of the negotiations," Barnier said.

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Barnier has previously said he would like the Brexit negotiations to be done and dusted within 18 months.

"The sooner we reach a deal on an orderly withdrawal, the sooner we can prepare for the future relationship," he said today.

However, Barnier also added: "It will take time, several months certainly. We must do serious legal work on this with the United Kingdom."

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