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EU's Juncker warns Britain of "hefty" Brexit bill
BY 2017-02-22 08:41:44

BRUSSELS, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has chosen a French term to tell Britain it can expect to pay a "salty" price for quitting the European Union.

The phrase "salty" roughly translates as meaning "hefty or pricey."

Speaking on Tuesday, Juncker 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."

Juncker's comments, in a speech to the Flemish parliament in Brussels, come with the Brexit talks expected to be launched next month. It is expected to be two years before Britain actually withdraws from the 28-strong bloc.

In view of this, Juncker added, "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."

In his address to Belgian parliamentarians, he also maintained Brussels' position that withdrawal arrangements -- including the "exit bill" -- must be agreed before moving on to potentially drawn out negotiations over future trade relations.

The Commission chief said, "This will be a difficult negotiation, which will take two years to reach agreement on the exit arrangements. To agree on the future architecture of the relations between the UK and EU, it will need years."

He restated the Commission's position that there will be no membership of the single market for Britain unless it signs up to freedom of movement for workers.

"Those who want to benefit from the advantages of the single market must respect the four fundamental freedoms, including the one which relates to the movement of workers," he said.

Brexit was a "crisis for us all," he said, adding that it made him personally "sad" to see a major European actor leave the EU.

"We need to settle our affairs not with our hearts full of a feeling of hostility, but with the knowledge that the continent owes a lot to the UK," he said. "Without Churchill, we would not be here -- we mustn't forget that, but we mustn't be naive."

Juncker, a former Luxembourg Prime Minister, said, "Our British friends will need to understand that we want to continue to develop European integration."

Juncker's comments came as the British House of Lords began a second day of discussion of the government's European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which, if passed, will allow British Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, allowing formal talks with the EU to start.

(Editor:Li Zhaoqi) (From:xinhua)
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