BERLIN: Britain will not be pressured into giving a public answer to EU demands for concessions on a divorce agreement by the end of next week, its chief Brexit negotiator David Davis said Thursday.
Davis’s negotiating partner, the EU’s Michel Barnier, last Friday handed Britain a two-week ultimatum to improve its offer on an exit bill – a figure senior EU officials put at up to 60 billion euros ($70.6 billion) – to unlock the next phase of talks in December.
But Davis shrugged off the ultimatum: “It’s not a deadline I set.”
“The next critical date is the December Council, that’s a decision making date,” he said, referring to the summit of EU leaders on December 14 and 15.
“Michel is a negotiator… Is he negotiating? Yes he is,” Davis told business leaders at a forum in Berlin organised by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.
“I don’t think we’re going to be pressurised into providing a public answer next week. No, certainly not,” he added.
The Brexit bill has been the main source of deadlock in the talks since they began in June.
The European Union says it must meet budgetary commitments totalling 50 to 60 billion euros, but Britain puts the figure nearer 20 billion.
EU leaders decided at their last summit in October that there was insufficient progress on three main divorce issues – the bill, Northern Ireland and the rights of three million EU nationals living in Britain — to move on to the next stage.
They said they hoped to open talks on future relations and a post-Brexit transition period at their next meeting on December 14-15, but officials have warned that could now slip to February or March.