A HOUSE OF LORDS report suggests that the UK could leave the European Union without paying a penny.
According to the Lords EU Financial Affairs Subcommittee, the government would be in a strong legal position should the upcoming Article 50 negotiations result in no post-Brexit deal.
Their analysis argues that the UK would be under no obligation to fork out a €60 billion ‘divorce bill’ currently being discussed by the European Commission, nor would it have to honour EU budget payments agreed by former prime minister David Cameron.
However, the report also warns that failure to agree a deal with the EU would be likely to harm the country’s chances of securing beneficial access to EU markets.
“The UK appears to have a strong legal position in respect of the EU budget post-Brexit and this provides important context to the article 50 negotiations,” said Lady Falkner of Margravine, a Liberal Democrat peer and chair of the sub-committee.
“Even though we consider that the UK will not be legally obliged to pay into the EU budget after Brexit, the issue will be a prominent factor in withdrawal negotiations. The government will have to set the financial and political costs of making such payments against potential gains from other elements of the negotiations.”
The peers’ report is likely to be met with scorn in Brussels and by Michel Barnier, the EU’s lead Brexit negotiator, whose team calculated the potential bill of €55-60 billion.
According to them, the money would cover EU civil staff pensions, decommissioning nuclear power plants and a range of unpaid bills.