One of the features of the British media’s handling of the Brexit negotiations, and indeed of the way that British politicians have approached them so far, is that it’s massively UK-centric. It seems that questions are asked constantly over the British position, yet the EU position is fundamentally unchallenged.
The EU position is that the UK is obligated to make payments across various different areas: meeting outstanding financial commitments, the European Development Fund, to meet a portion of EU liabilities, EU pensions, etc.
They appear to be claiming that the European Union has its own legal personality, and that therefore the UK is not entitled to a share of the European Union’s assets.
The EU speaks of legal obligations – politicians on the EU side speak of the UK’s ‘debt’ to the European Union, money that the UK is purportedly legally obliged to pay.
On the UK side, the British government speaks of ‘political’ or ‘moral’ obligations. It argues that there is no legal responsibility to pay anything, though in a divorce settlement it essentially is offering what it sees as a huge gesture of goodwill to unlock talks.
The British government, in the third round of negotiations, challenged the EU’s position on legal obligations. In the fourth round, following Theresa May’s Florence speech, the British government made financial concessions.
But unless there is a meeting of minds, even that huge proposed payment means nothing: to the UK, we are offering a huge amount of money and would expect to get something in return. To the EU, the UK is grudgingly paying only part of a debt.
I put this point to Guy Verhofstadt earlier this week: that unless both sides are able to broadly agree on what the legal position is, when it comes to future negotiations all discussions will be built upon a foundation …read more
Source:: The Huffington Post – UK politics