Denmark dismisses EU’s wrangling over Brexit divorce bill as ‘a game’

Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty. Photo illustration taken in Brussels, Belgium, June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Illustration/Files

The Guardian — Downing Street’s hopes of opening Brexit talks on a future trade deal have been given a boost by Denmark, whose finance minister Kristian Jensen dismissed the EU’s wrangling over the UK’s divorce bill as “a game” that requires swift political compromise.

Jensen said: “In any political negotiations, there is not enough time, not enough money, not enough this, not enough that. This is part of the game. Because what we are dealing with here is not rocket science. We are not speaking about putting a man on Mars or solving the problem of CO2 emissions. “We are now on the same page … In my view it is rather important we get into a more close and more speedy process on concluding some of the issues. The UK is a great trading partner of EU27, a strong ally in defence and security, so we need to find out how we can have a good and close relationship post-Brexit,”

The fifth round of the Brexit negotiations start on Monday and Germany and France are among the member states who still want to continue to restrict the scope of the negotiations until more firm guarantees on money are made by the British. But the UK is hoping other member states will want to be more flexible after May offered to pay €20bn to ensure no member state loses out in the two years after May 2019.

A meeting of EU ambassadors on Friday was split on how best to encourage the UK to make further commitments on the financial settlement, however. One suggestion, which did not command majority support, was that at the European council summit, the EU would offer to discuss between themselves how a future trade relationship would work or open “scoping” discussions about a transition period, in an attempt to encourage Britain to be more forthcoming.

Representatives of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, led a group of member states stridently opposed to showing such flexibility.

The Danish minister, who is tipped as a future prime minister, was one of a number of key politicians Britain’s Brexit negotiator David Davis met last month, including senior figures in the Dutch and Belgian governments and MEPs from the largest group in the European parliament, the European People’s party, representing constituencies in Spain, Germany and Ireland.