The issue of any financial settlement with the bloc once Britain quits is an extremely sensitive one, with Eurosceptics adamant the UK will not owe a penny if it leaves on October 31 without a withdrawal agreement, as appears possible or even probably. But EU leaders argue Britain will still owe the money as a result of financial commitments made prior to the decision to leave.
Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said: “All commitments that were taken by the 28 member states should be honoured.
“This is also and especially true in a no-deal scenario where the United Kingdom would be expected to continue to honour all commitments made during EU membership.”
Ms Andreeva, who stressed London had not formally raised the issue with the EU so far, added: “Rather than going now into a judicial action threat, I think that it is important to make clear that settling accounts is essential to starting of a new relationship on the right foot, based on mutual trust.”
“I’m very unhappy about giving away £39billion of taxpayers’ money when we don’t owe the EU a penny.
“I’m very worried about the EU court still having jurisdiction over us.
“So there are a number of things that are wrong with the withdrawal agreement, not just the backstop.
“I think the backstop makes it impossible, but if of course, you’re going to reopen the withdrawal agreement then you can reopen everything and see if we can get a proper deal.”
Downing Street lawyers believe as little as £7 billion may be payable if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.
The £39 billion figure relates to the withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU by Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May, which has since been rejected three times by Parliament.
Mr Johnson has floated the idea of not paying before – and EU budget commissioner Gunther Oettinger said last month: “If he is serious with these statements, it would jeopardise the credit rating of the United Kingdom.”
In June, a source close to French President Emmanuel Macron said failing to pay the Brexit bill would amount to a sovereign debt default and on Wednesday an official in his office said that leaving without a deal would not remove Britain’s obligation to pay.
The French official said on Wednesday: “There is no magic world in which the bill no longer exists.”
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