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The UK put the current estimate of its Brexit bill, the post-exit financial settlement, at £ 37.3bn, £ 3.5bn below that published by Brussels last week.
But British officials insisted there was no dispute with Brussels and that the difference in the numbers reflected different financial methodologies, not an impending crisis.
Steve Barclay, chief secretary of the treasury, said the estimate was in line with previous government calculations on the cost of settling the divorce with the EU.
The Brexit bill was previously estimated by the UK at between £ 35bn and £ 39bn, lower than the EU’s estimate of £ 40.8bn published in the bloc’s accounts this week last.
Barclay said in a written statement: “The first financial settlement invoice was received in April 2021 for payments to be made from June to September 2021.
“The UK’s net liability for the first bill was € 3.74 billion and the first of four equal monthly installments was paid at the end of June.”
The EU insisted on settling the financial arrangements for the divorce before entering into detailed talks with Britain over a future trade deal and the issue exasperated some conservative eurosceptics.
The bill concerns the multi-year commitments made by Britain during its accession, which in some cases extend for decades beyond the end of the UK’s transition period for Brexit, which ended on January 1.
British officials say the main reason for the lower estimate of the UK bill is that the Treasury deducted estimated payments from EU money to UK recipients after Brexit, unlike the EU.
They say there are currently no disputes and that although the two sides use different methodologies, Britain is paying its bills on time.
Payment details are included in an EU statement of finances produced by the Treasury, which also includes details on anti-fraud measures and a strategy for managing EU funds in the UK.
The Treasury was working with the European Commission to “ensure that their systems and controls over financial reporting are adequate,” a UK official said.
Among the compensating factors is the tranche of competition fines imposed on the UK in cases that were decided before the end of 2020.
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