‘Thanks for the war, now you have to pay’ is the message to the UK from the EU Commission President.
Speaking a day after the Brexit talks were described as “deadlocked” by the EU’s chief negotiator, Jean-Claude Juncker accused the UK of being unwilling to compromise over the divorce bill.
Juncker insisted the British “have to pay” if they want talks to begin on a future trade deal between the UK and the EU.
In a debate at a university in his native Luxembourg, Juncker was brutally honest in his assessment of the Brexit talks.
He said: “The British are discovering, as we are, day after day new problems. That’s the reason why this process will take longer than initially thought.
“We cannot find for the time being a real compromise as far as the remaining financial commitments of the UK are concerned.
“As we are not able to do this we will not be able to say in the European Council in October that now we can move to the second phase of negotiations.
“They have to pay, they have to pay, not in an impossible way. I’m not in a revenge mood. I’m not hating the British. The Europeans have to be grateful for so many things Britain has brought to Europe before war, during war, after war. But now they have to pay.”
Juncker, who is well-known in Brussels circles for adopting a Nigel Farage-style approach to alcohol, used a metaphor about buying a round of drinks in a bar to explain the stalemate.
He said: “If you are sitting at a bar and ordering 28 beers and then suddenly some of your colleagues are leaving, it’s ok but they have to pay, they have to pay.”
The deadlock in the talks comes despite Theresa May promising to “honour commitments” to the EU budget made while the UK was a full member of the bloc.
In a speech in Florence last month, May said: “ I do not want our partners to fear that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave.”
The Prime Minister also said the UK would “want to make an ongoing contribution” to any EU agencies and organisations the UK remained part of after Brexit – such as Europol.
Yet these promises were not enough to convince EU chief negotiation Michel Barnier to recommended “sufficient progress” has been made on phase one of the talks.
Speaking about the financial settlement at a press conference in Brussels alongside UK Brexit Secertary David Davis on Thursday, Barnier said: “On this question we have reached a state of deadlock which is very disturbing for thousands of project promoters in Europe and it’s disturbing also for taxpayers.”
The negotiator said he expected the phase one talks – which also include discussions on citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland – to be concluded by December.