The UK’s ‘divorce bill’ for Brexit stands at € 47.5 billion (£ 40.8 billion) according to Brussels estimates that are higher than government forecasts.
The first installment, 6.8 billion euros, must be paid by the end of the year.
The final bill, buried in the European Union’s consolidated annual accounts for 2020, is significantly higher than a previous estimate by the UK’s budget watchdog.
In 2018, the Office for Budget Responsibility assessed the Brexit bill at € 41.4 billion (£ 37.1 billion). During Brexit negotiations, UK government officials said the final bill would be around £ 35bn to £ 39bn.
The bill covers the UK’s share of EU debts and liabilities during 47 years of membership, such as payment for infrastructure projects, pensions and sick pay for civil servants. ‘EU.
It was one of the three big issues the government had agreed on with the EU in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signed by Boris Johnson in December 2019, after the PM won a majority overwhelming on the promise to “get Brexit done”. The other main elements of the deal were citizens’ rights and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which the UK is now seeking to amend.
The 2020 accounts have not yet been approved by EU auditors, but the Brexit bill is not expected to change.
Irish member of the Court of Auditors Tony Murphy told national broadcaster RTÉ News, which first reported the figure, that the figure of 47.5 billion euros could be considered final.
“While the 2020 EU consolidated accounts released by the Commission are currently provisional, the Court has completed its audit work on these accounts,” Murphy said in a statement to the broadcaster. “For all intents and purposes, the figures published by the Commission are final. “
While the EU’s accounts may not change, UK government sources said the exercise was an accounting estimate rather than an official figure. Some liabilities may never materialize, for example if recipients of EU loans repay all of the money rather than default.
The bulk of the Brexit bill, € 36 billion, is intended to fund the EU’s infrastructure and social projects agreed to by previous UK governments. Much of the rest consists of commitments from the EU, including pensions and health insurance for retired EU officials, former EU commissioners and MEPs.
The government also owes a share of the EU’s assets, including € 1.8 billion in fines imposed on companies. As the EU’s competition regulator, the Commission regularly fines companies that break the rules and the UK is entitled to a share of the monies collected during membership.
A UK government spokesperson said: ‘This is only an accounting estimate and does not reflect the exact amount the UK is expected to pay the EU this year.
“We will publish details of payments to and from the EU made under the Financial Regulation in the EU’s financial statement later this year.”
The final bill is not expected to be paid for many years, although the UK has the option of making refunds earlier.
Boris Johnson once said the EU “might whistle” if it expects the UK to pay a divorce bill, but then agreed that the UK must write off its debts in order to negotiate a deal commercial.