How much will the UK have to pay the EU once Brexit is negotiated?

Published: 20th Jan 2017

In brief

Claim

The EU wants the UK to pay £60 billion before they negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal.

Conclusion

We can’t verify this yet. Experts and a number of media reports have suggested that the final bill to the EU once Brexit is negotiated could be anywhere between €20 and €70 billion. We asked the EU who told us it couldn’t comment.

“One of the things that's been reported is that the EU wants, before they negotiate on a trade deal, us to pay £60 billion max, something like that, to the EU before talks start.”

David Dimbleby, 19 January 2017

Versions of this figure, in both pounds and euros, have been circulating for some time, but there’s no official line from the EU itself. We’ve been unable to verify the claim yet.

We spoke to the producers of BBC Question Time who said that Mr Dimbleby was referring to an article published in The Times saying that the Prime Minister has been told that the deal on exiting the EU would have to be agreed before any deal on a new trading relationship with the EU can be started. It said this could include paying the EU “a bill of up to £60 billion”

The Times told us that this figure refers to an estimate of what the UK might have to pay towards the EU up to 2020/21. This is the date that the current EU budget lasts until. It also includes other outstanding payments to the EU and contributions towards the pensions of EU officials. It worked out that could cost £60 billion or €70 billion.

We contacted the European Commission about the figure, but they told us they couldn’t comment.

Experts have told a committee of MPs that payments could include any outstanding contributions to the EU budget. They also said that, because of the way the EU’s spending works, some of this money may even be paid after that date, as far ahead as 2023 or even 2030.  There may also be payments which have spilled over from previous years.

They said there are a number of ways that the UK’s pension contributions could be calculated so it's hard to come up with an exact figure. Altogether the experts said it could be anything between €20 and €60 billion.

Professor Iain Begg, writing for UK in a Changing Europe, said that it’s still an open question whether or not the UK will have to pay the full amount to the EU after the date of Brexit.

We’ve written before about the likelihood of the UK having to pay over £20 billion over the next two years while we negotiate our exit from the EU.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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