Jean-Claude Juncker has warned Theresa May he will never agree to a ‘cut price’ Brexit.
Brussels is determined Britain will pay its share of existing commitments for the next six years and some officials are eager to get agreement on a £50bn bill before talks move to other matters.
Germany has reportedly agreed with Britain that the any divorce charge should not be agreed in isolation.
But EU Commission President Juncker today warned the bill would still be ‘salty’ – French slang for large – when it is handed over.
Speaking at the Belgian parliament, he said: ‘Our British friends need to know – and they know it already – that it will not be cut-price or zero-cost.
‘The British will have to respect the commitments which they played a part in agreeing.
‘Therefore the bill will be – to use a rather vulgar term – very salty. It will be necessary for the British to respect commitments which they freely entered into.’
Mr Juncker warned the talk would be lengthy in remarks that will raise fears striking a deal will be impossible in the two year timescale outlined in the treaty.
He wants agreement on the sum before negotiating anything else, including the future UK-EU trading deal.
But Germany has insisted the negotiations on Brexit itself and the future arrangements can be completed in parallel, The Times said today.
German ministers are said to be wary of handing Britain a large bill at the start of the negotiations.