Europe

The Latest: EU: UK must agree on divorce bill before talks

The Latest on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

The European Union's Brexit negotiator says Britain must settle the financial debts it owes the bloc before talks on its future relations with its European partners can begin.

Michel Barnier said Wednesday that "we have to settle the account, not more not less."

Unveiling details of his negotiating scope for the talks, Barnier insisted that the bill "is not a punishment."

He said the EU's budget for the next few years had been decided together with Britain, which should pay their agreed contribution.

He said: "We have decided these programs together ... Engagements were undertaken and they have to be honored. It's a question of responsibility."

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10:50 a.m.

The European Union is making it legally impossible for Britain to tackle key issues like trade with its European partners until its debts have been settled.

A draft of the mandate outlining how the union will negotiate Britain's departure limits the remit of EU Brexit point-man Michel Barnier to things like safeguards for EU citizens in Britain and London's financial obligations. The draft is being made public Wednesday.

The EU lists another priority as keeping people and goods moving smoothly across the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and EU member Ireland.

EU states would have to approve progress on those issues before Barnier can start negotiating the outline of the bloc's future relations with Britain after it leaves in 2019.