The United Kingdom will need to come up with €43 billion to settle its commitments to the EU even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the European Commission warned on Monday.
Stressing that all commitments made by the 28 member States need to be met, Commission Spokeswoman Mina Andreeva pointed out that if it crashes out of the Union without an agreement, Britain will have to honour all commitments made since joining the EU.
Settling the accounts is essential for starting a new relationship on a good footing, one based on mutual trust, she added at the Commission’s daily press conference.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said on various occasions that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would not have to pay the €43 billion required to settle accounts with the EU at the time of its withdrawal. On Sunday, he repeated on the British TV channel ITV that, strictly speaking, the money would no longer be owed.
According to Johnson, the money would, on the other hand, be available to help manage the consequences of a hard Brexit, a stand that exposes him to reprisals by the UK’s European partners.
The deadline for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is 31 October, but prospects for a negotiated withdrawal have been marred by the issue of the Irish border.
The agreement reached by the UK and the EU in 2018 but rejected by the British parliament includes a backstop mechanism opposed by the British.
The mechanism, a sort of insurance policy for the EU, aims to avoid the re-emergence of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the south, which could reignite conflict on the island.