September 25, 2017 / 4:37 PM / a year ago

Britain links EU divorce bill to deal on new trading relationship

Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis (L) and European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier talk to the media, ahead of Brexit talks in Brussels, Belgium September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain will honour its financial commitments made during its membership of the European Union after it leaves the EU, but that deal must be linked to an agreement on future economic ties, Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator said.

Speaking to reporters at the start of the fourth round of divorce negotiations between London and the EU, David Davis said it would take pragmatism on both sides to reach an agreement.

“The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership, but it is obvious that reaching a conclusion on this issue can only be done in the context of and in accordance with a new deep and special partnership with the European Union,” he said.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier made clear, however, he saw the sequence differently. Britain and the EU would first have to agree on citizens’ rights, a financial settlement and the relationship between Ireland and Northern Ireland before a future EU-UK relationship can be discussed.

“Real progress on three main issues - citizens, Ireland, financial settlement - is essential to move to the discussion on transition and on the future (relationship). These are separate issues,” Barnier told reporters.

Reporting By Alastair Macdonald, Philip Blenkinsop and Jan Strupczewski

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