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Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has said Britain’s EU exit bill will have to be “calculated scientifically” as the bloc gears up start official Brexit negotiations next month.

Speaking to the BBC on the eve of this weekend’s 60th anniversary of the EU’s founding Treaty of Rome, he said the EU would not seek to punish the UK or impose sanctions, noting that he is “not in a hostile mood”, but a bill will have to be paid. He said the amount would be “around” £50bn.

“There will be no sanctions no punishment. Nothing of that kind. But Britain has to know – and I suppose that the government does know it – we have to calculate scientifically what the British commitments were and then the bill has to be paid.”

The bill comprises UK financial commitments made but not yet paid up to various EU infrastructure projects and programmes, as well as the UK’s share of pension liabilities of EU staff.

Asked if UK prime minister Theresa May’s absence from the EU celebrations on Saturday would be the elephant in the room. Mr Juncker quipped: “She is not an elephant. I like her as a person. I am deeply respecting the British people.”

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