The EU is asking for a 100 billion Brexit divorce bill.
The EU says that the UK should pay a share of money that’s already been committed to various projects. There is no official bill from them yet—and any bill will be a matter for negotiations. €100 billion is much higher than other estimates.
“The EU is showing its true colours here. Within the space of 48 hours, our divorce bill went from 50 billion to 100 billion.”
Paul Nuttall MEP, 4 May 2017
"Britain to offer EU £36 billion for Brexit bill"
Sunday Telegraph, 6 August 2017
The EU hasn’t officially asked for any particular sum of money, but does say that “the United Kingdom must honour its share of the financing of all the obligations undertaken while it was a member”.
The UK government seems to accept that, in principle, there might be a payment involved. But not on the scale of it.
There have been no official figures from either side. But there are indications of what types of thing Brussels thinks the UK should be paying for.
A recent Sunday Telegraph report said the UK government expects the EU to ask for €60 billion from the UK as a starting point, and that it expected to negotiate this down to around €30-€40 billion (About £36 billion if it’s the higher figure). But Downing Street sources have distanced themselves from those figures in other reports, with one quoted as saying they are “highly speculative and wrong”.
Researchers have speculated previously what the size of the demand might be, and €60 billion is within the range of several of the estimates so far.
The same figure had been circulating in Brussels since last year. More recent reports that the EU view of what to ask the UK to pay for was hardening led Alex Barker of the Financial Times to calculate an upfront demand of between €91-113 billion.
There’s no definitive figure for how much the EU will ask for. Professor Iain Begg, an EU budget expert, has said that calculations can only be “on the back of an envelope”.
These calculations are complicated: there are various liabilities apart from just the core EU budget; the UK’s share of these isn’t settled; and there’s the question of whether the UK is entitled to a portion of EU assets. So there are different figures for different assumptions and scenarios. Lower estimates assume “minimal obligations to the EU and maximum UK receipts”, whereas higher ones “maximis[e] the UK’s obligations and minimis[e] its receipts, as the Institute for Government puts it.
Still less do we know how much the UK government will actually agree to.
A House of Lords report has argued that legally the UK isn’t required to pay a penny. This has been disputed by some legal experts, and the report itself acknowledges that there are “competing interpretations”.
Ultimately we will know more once the Article 50 negotiations have progressed further.
Correction 9 August 2017
We've removed the currency reference from the claim, which wasn't actually specified on the programme.
This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.
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