Sunday 23 July 2017

EU now demands UK must pay €100bn Brexit bill

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was 'by no means a given that Ireland’s position would be seen as a priority for the negotiations'. Photo: AP
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was 'by no means a given that Ireland’s position would be seen as a priority for the negotiations'. Photo: AP

Colm Kelpie and Kevin Doyle

The EU has increased its opening demand for the UK's Brexit bill to a gross payment of up to €100bn - which includes post-Brexit farm payments and EU administration fees in 2019 and 2020.

The figures were calculated by the 'Financial Times' in an analysis of new stricter demands driven by France and Germany.

EU negotiators have revised their initial calculations to maximise the liabilities Britain is asked to cover by following direct requests from several member states.

The newspaper is reporting that Paris and Warsaw have pushed for the inclusion of post-Brexit annual farm payments, while Berlin is against granting Britain a share of EU assets.

Meanwhile the Irish Government has warned that any gap in the EU Budget caused by Brexit could have a significant impact on the amount of funding that Ireland receives from Brussels and the amount it will have to cough up. It also stressed that the social consequences and impact of a return to a hard Border cannot be understated.

Read more: Every effort should be made to avoid border controls - House of Lords report

Setting out its formal position ahead of Brexit talks next month, the Government warned any impact on trade from the UK exit will have profound impacts on all-island relations, the economy and peace process.

The Government document, although lengthy at over 60 pages, largely sets out the State's already publicly stated position on a range of areas including the Border, the common travel area and trade.

It also reiterates that the UK must pay what it owes to the EU - predicted to be one of the most complex, and contentious, elements of the negotiations.

It pointed out that the UK is currently a net contributor to the EU budget, making a gross contribution of €21bn to the EU's total €145bn in spending in 2015.

"Any gap in the EU budget caused by the UK's withdrawal from the EU could result in increased contributions from the remaining 27 EU Member States; reductions in EU funding for programmes or projects … or even the cancellation of projects; or a combination of these," the Government's Brexit document states. "This could therefore have a significant impact on the EU budget … and potentially a significant impact on both Ireland's contributions and receipts."

The document states that any resolution of the UK's financial commitments will be one of the most difficult aspects of the negotiations.

It's slated to be dealt with early on in the talks.

Read more: 'Theresa May is deluded' - Juncker in scathing call with Merkel after Brexit talks

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said the UK's Brexit bill - covering outstanding liabilities such as pensions and other financial commitments - would be in the region of £50bn (€60bn) and that the final amount would be "calculated scientifically".

Meanwhile, the Government said that given that the EU's initial negotiating position is now clear, the Government will intensify its focus on the economic implications of Brexit.

It said it would prepare a further paper on economic implications of the Brexit challenge, and also make a strong case at EU level that Ireland may need further support to mitigate the effects. It said active discussions were already taking place with the European Investment Bank.

Briefing the Dáil on last weekend's meeting of the EU Council, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was "by no means a given that Ireland's position would be seen as a priority for the negotiations".

He said "strategic, persistent and patient work" had ensured our "specific concerns have been fully acknowledged in the guidelines".

Irish Independent

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