A LEAKED document has suggested the EU will take the UK to the International Court of Justice if it tries to leave the union without paying an estimated €57 billion ‘divorce bill’.
Obtained by a Dutch publication, a draft plan threatens a long legal battle to force Britain to pay for what the EU sees as ‘liabilities’ for its 43-year membership.
It comes after Conservative MPs have been advising May to simply walk away from negotiations if the EU attempts to impose a mammoth exit fee.
But the UK’s ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow has warned that Brussels has confidence in pursuing ‘other legal options’.
A legal battle at The Hague could delay any new trade agreement with the bloc if it insists on prioritising settling the controversy over the money owed.
The document, obtained by the respected De Volkskrant newspaper, said the strategy will also insist that access to the single market will depend upon the UK accepting the ‘four freedoms’ – including freedom of movement, which has been a ‘red line’ for PM May.
It will also propose a deal guaranteeing both the future rights of EU nationals in the UK and Britons in EU countries, which Spain announced it supports ‘in principle’ this week.
The strategy will also demand that Britain loses some of its existing trade advantages as a price of leaving. It is thought this will dissuade others from following suit.
The Dutch paper claimed only six people have seen the ‘secret EU strategy’, including Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker.
The EU is likely to argue that the UK is obliged to continue paying its contributions until 2020, as it agreed to in 2014, despite its plans to completely leave by 2019.
May will trigger Brexit on March 29.