Britain to offer €20 billion for Brexit divorce bill

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Ministers Questions at Parliament in London, Britain, 13 September 2017 [Neil Hall/EPA/EFE]

British Prime Minister Theresa May will promise to pay a Brexit divorce bill of at least €20 billion, according to officials cited by the Financial Times.

May’s EU adviser Olly Robbins has informed his counterparts in various European capitals of the offer, the newspaper said in its online edition late on Tuesday (19 September), citing unnamed officials briefed on the discussions.

The announcement will be formally made by May on Friday, when the prime minister delivers a highly-anticipated Brexit speech in the Italian city of Florence, the FT said.

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Britain is yet to put forward a figure to meet its financial obligations to the European Union when it leaves the bloc, currently set for 29 March 2019.

The lack of agreement on a divorce settlement has proven a major stumbling block in the Brexit talks.

While Brussels has not made public its own figure, EU senior officials have told AFP the preliminary evaluation is between €60 to €100 billion.

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The UK’s Brexit negotiators claim they have had “lots of legal advice” suggesting that the €60 billion Brexit bill should not be paid to Brussels, has learned.

Britain’s net contribution in 2015, the last year for which figures were available, was €10.75 billion, according to European Commission and European Parliament documents.

The €20 billion figure therefore points to payments to meet the UK commitment to the EU’s seven-year budget, which runs to 2020, and could be paid during a transitioned departure from the bloc.

“Transition payments do not cancel the bill,” a senior EU diplomat told the Financial Times.

May’s office did not immediately comment on the newspaper report and the government’s position has previously been that it is up to the EU to come up with a figure, which London will then challenge.

€20 billion may sound like a lot of money, but a research made by before the Brexit referendum reveled that thanks to the “UK rebate” won by Margaret Thatcher since 1985, over the last three decades, the United Kingdom has been reimbursed the equivalent of more than €111 billion from the EU budget. And when allowing for inflation, the value of money was higher in previous decades.

UK reimbursed in excess of €111 billion by EU since 1985

Thanks to the “UK rebate” won by Margaret Thatcher, over the last three decades, the United Kingdom has been reimbursed more than €111 billion from the EU budget, has learned.

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