Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 259

The multi-billion-euro exit charge that could sink Brexit talks

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 14 febbraio 2017

brexit-talksTHE mother of parliaments has spoken. On February 8th a large majority of MPs backed a bill authorising the government to begin Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union by triggering Article 50 of the EU treaty. (A few dissenters were told off for singing “Ode to Joy”, the EU’s anthem, in the chamber.) After approval from the Lords, it should become law in March. But a different sort of Brexit bill is approaching, and will be harder to manage. It could yet scupper the whole process. Before Britain’s referendum last June, Leave campaigners promised voters that Brexit would save the taxpayer £350m ($440m) a week. That pledge was always tendentious. But officials in Brussels are drawing up a bill for departure that could mean Britain’s contributions remain close to its membership dues for several years after it leaves. In a new report for the Centre for European Reform, a think-tank, Alex Barker, a Financial Times correspondent, puts the figure at anything between €24.5bn ($26.1bn) and €72.8bn.
The bill comprises three main elements. All, in Brussels’s view, derive from the legal obligations implied by Britain’s EU membership. The first, and largest, covers the gap between payments made in the EU’s annual budget and the larger “commitments” made under its seven-year budgetary framework, approved by Britain and the 27 other EU governments. This overhang has been steadily growing. Britain’s share of what Eurocrats call the reste à liquider (or amount yet to be paid) would be around €29.2bn, Mr Barker estimates.
The second element covers investment commitments to be executed after Britain leaves the EU in 2019. Most of this is “cohesion” funding for poorer countries (think motorways in Poland). Mr Barker reckons Britain’s share could amount to €17.4bn. The government will struggle to explain why voters should be on the hook for payments made after Brexit. But the European Commission will argue that Britain’s approval of the current budget, which runs until 2020, obliges it to cough up.Pensions make up the third component. The liabilities for the EU’s unfunded scheme stand at over €60bn. Britain may be prepared to cover its own nationals. But European officials insist that all liabilities are a joint responsibility, as Eurocrats work for the EU, not their national governments. This may be the fiercest row of all. Brussels’s demand will combine these three elements with a few miscellaneous items, and may adjust for Britain’s share of EU assets, its budget rebate and payments it is due from the EU (see chart). (by The Economist) (photo: Brexit talks)


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