Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament president, has described the financial offer of Britain on Brexit as “peanuts” before a crunch European Union summit to be held this week.
Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to maintain the contributions of Britain for two years after Brexit in March 2019 to complete the current European Union budget period, amounting to around 20 billion euros ($24 billion).
However, Tajani informed reporters: “Twenty billion is peanuts. The problem is 50 or 60 (billion euros), this is the real situation.”
When asked if May agreed that her offer was “peanuts”, a source from May’s Downing Street office said: “I suspect that she does not agree with that.
“We’ve made an open and generous offer,” said the source.
Disagreement regarding the extent of the financial liabilities of Britain is a major sticking point in the Brexit negotiations, which were set to move on to the next stage this month but are still deadlocked.
“The UK government is not realistic. We need to put the money on the table, we need our money back as Mrs Thatcher said 30 or 40 years ago,” said Tajani.
He was pointing to demand in 1980 by Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister, to adjust the contributions of Britain to Europe.
“Then it is possible to start the negotiations for the new deal,” said Tajani.
On Thursday, leaders of the European Union are meeting in Brussels for a two-day summit in which they will determine what progress has been made in the first stage of negotiations regarding the withdrawal of Britain.
London had hoped that they would approve the start of discussions on the future trading relationship between the two sides. However, this may be postponed until a December summit.
– ‘A difficult negotiation’ –
On Tuesday, David Davis, the Brexit minister, accused the European Union of holding up divorce negotiations to persuade Britain to pay more money.
“They’re using time pressure to see if they can get more money out of us — it’s obvious to anybody,” Davis told MPs — urging a swift denial from Brussels.
Leo Varadkar, the Irish premier, stated that the problem was that leaders of the European Union were still uncertain about what Britain wants, after weeks of public disagreements in the cabinet of May.
“It is quite a difficult negotiation when people who want to leave the European Union in Britain don’t really seem to agree among themselves what that actually means,” he informed a tv programme late Tuesday.
Varadkar continued: “It’s still not clear what the UK actually wants regarding a new relationship.
“Because on the one hand it seems that the UK wants to have a close trading relationship with Europe just like it has now, but it also seems to want something different.
“And it is very hard for us as European prime ministers to understand exactly what the UK wants the new relationship to look like.”
Tajani continued: “We (the EU) are united. I don’t know where is the unity in the UK because there are many different positions.”