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Brexit Divorce Bill

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sunny-dave | 11:28 Fri 01st Sep 2017 | News
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There are (at least) three illogicalities in the EU's position on this :

1. There is nothing anywhere in the Treaty of Accession (or any of the follow-up revisions) that says that a member leaving will have to pay an exit fee.

2. If you say that (1) is somehow irrelevant because no-one ever expected any state to leave, then (by a logical extension of the UK paying its future commitments) Poland could leave tomorrow and ask for a €60 billion leaving present - does anyone believe that would be paid? I tend to think not.

3. It appears that it would actually be illegal (without new primary legislation) for our Government to pay anything at all to the EU towards 'future commitments and pensions' which would be incurred after we are no longer a member - that's not just UK law, it's EU law too.

Barnier and his pals are whistling in the dark - if a bunch of UK Government interns can deconstruct their "divorce bill" so effectively in less than a week, it has no chance of standing up to the harsh light of UK judicial inspection.

They actually need a Free Trade Deal just as much as we do (if not more) - the concept that there is a £60 billion 'facilitation fee' is a load of Fetid Dingos Kidneys and I hope that Mr Davis has had that translated into some fairly blunt French equivalent.


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Thatcher would have told them to take a running jump. I'm not confident that TM has the same steel balls as Thatcher.
I don't think that characterising this as an "exit" fee is accurate. Is this not just about honouring financial commitments, most of which go up to at least 2020? And besides, having banged on about how the UK is a net contributor to the EU in the build-up to the referendum, some level of transition seems not unreasonable a request/demand as the EU27 will need to cover the shortfall in the long run.

Also I still think you are labouring under some misapprehension that the EU is the smaller and weaker party in these negotiations, when the reverse is certainly true to a large extent. I'm not saying the UK is weak but the idea that the EU needs us so much that it will throw money in our direction is clearly nonsensical.
Well that's excellent news, Britain can just walk away ?
if Britain has committed to pay something, why should it then not do so? It could act like Argentina and just unilaterally cancel its debts, I suppose; but Britain's status in the world partly depends on not behaving like a banana republic
No one is suggesting that we are bigger and greater than the rest of the EU, Jim, but there are certain EU members who think the UK will not amount to a hill of beans outside of the Union and that they should make an example of us in order to send out a stark warning to other member states, lest they too hold a referendum to decide upon future membership.

Ergo, we should not accept a crippling financial penalty for leaving.
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I refer you all to a House of Lords report - which unequivocally states a legal opinion that we have no commitments after exit :

Paragraphs 135 and 136 :

135. On the basis of the legal opinions we have considered we conclude that, as a matter of EU law, Article 50 TEU allows the UK to leave the EU without being liable for outstanding financial obligations under the EU budget and related financial instruments, unless a withdrawal agreement is concluded which resolves this issue.

136. Individual EU Member States may seek to bring a case against the UK for the payments of outstanding liabilities under principles of public international law, but international law is slow to litigate and hard to enforce. In addition, it is questionable whether an international court or tribunal could have jurisdiction.

I'm not saying that we should pay nothing - we should honour our very specific commitments to plans and budgets - but not just lob a shedload of money into a 'probable future commitments' pot.

The current demands are a joke - not even a sensible starting point for negotiations.
I'm not sure what figure I have in mind that counts as "crippling", rather than just an acknowledgement that some amount of UK contribution was locked-in for the next five years or so. I wouldn't want the UK to pay a penny more than it "has" to, but it might "have" to pay quite a lot.

There's a lot of cake-having-and-eating I think that dominates the attitude of Brexiters. They probably should acknowledge the reality of the situation more, at least in the short term, since we did after all have the referendum not to leave the EU but to shut up those who wanted to leave. Turns out that backfired, rather, but it does mean that we are being led out of the EU by a government that wasn't remotely prepared for the possibility a year ago and is probably not much further forward even now.
It seems to me that the context of that report makes clear that it's a legal option that the UK can walk away, but it also makes clear that to do so would be a bit of a dick move.

And besides, as I understand it, Brexit opens the UK up to the world, and they're all desperately drumming their fingers waiting for us to be ready. Although exactly why they'd rush to sign trade deals with a country that shows no interest in honouring past or future commitments, or no interest in compromise, is anyone's guess.

60 billion euros amounts to roughly 5 years of membership fees, so it's not exactly unreasonable in that context as part of a transitional arrangement while the EU has to rebalance its budget. Perhaps one year too much, arguably? Where would you draw the line?
Jim, //...a country that shows no interest in honouring past or future commitments, or no interest in compromise//

Which country would that be?
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I think there's a real difference between M Barnier saying :

"£60 billion to start (and it'll probably be an unspecified amount more) - now sign here before we'll talk about trade"

And the true starting position which is :

"Legally we owe you zilch, but if you play nicely about trade we'll come to a sensible agreement on paying our future commitments.

But you must be aware that this is us being morally decent, rather than you having an enforceable right to the money"

Given that we pay about £12 billion net a year (and will do so until we leave) even two full years extra (until 2021 when many budgets and plans end) is only £24 billion - that seems way more than enough.
I'm sure I've read somewhere that even their (the EU) legal people have said that it would be illegal to make us pay an exit fee or whatever they want to call it!
Naomi -- the UK, but only in the hypothetical situation that saw our negotiating team walk into the room with a list of demands, budged on none of them, and consequently left the EU with no deal or no future relationship plans.

If that happens -- and if, indeed, the UK government were largely to blame for their intransigence, then yes I think that my description is fair. But I was speaking hypothetically. And, perhaps, even if my prediction turned out to be accurate, pragmatism may win the day.

It seems to me that a position of strength in negotiations is established better by showing yourself to be trustworthy rather than sticking resolutely to every position you may have with no willingness to budge.
That the insistence by some that the EU needs the UK more than the reverse keeps surfacing always surprises me. This is perhaps what some in the UK wish were the case but it simply cannot be true. It is entirely believable that the EU's preference for the UK to be within the EU runs deeper than the UK's fondness for the idea, but that would be due to political sentiment on the two sides and not least the different way the UK sees the world beyond its shores, not due to any overwhelming EU need. There are plenty of indications that the UK's history within the EU is resented by other nationalities and that there are those who are (perhaps quietly) glad to be rid of the UK. The primary reason behind that is probably the same as has prevented the UK from achieving its wish to, through minority pressure/decision, decide EU policy, to in effect run it - the same reason having led to its direct consequence of Brexit - the UK lacks a will for true compromise between equals, it desperately needs to feel more equal than the rest. Equality is not the British way, not within the UK or (wherever they are involved) outside it.
Jim, //I was speaking hypothetically//

In that case it would have been fairer and far more honest to have made that clear. Anything less gives the impression that you're simply sticking the boot in - again. If this country, as you hypothesized, had no interest in honouring past or future commitments, or no interest in compromise, we wouldn’t be attempting to negotiate.
Karl is advocating we adopt the German equality template..... or God forbid the French one. Paahh.
Simply leave it to the negotiators. I am pretty sure that there is a great deal of work going on which we don't, and probably won't, get to know about. Done
I thought I had made it clear -- the context of the post was pretty unambiguous: "it would be a dick move [to walk away paying nothing]", followed by explaining why it might be seen as such.

Anyway, moving on.
Jim, you hadn't made it clear.... but as you say, moving on.
If the EU was willing to negotiate rather then play to form and dictate then I'm sure some form of agreement could be made. Of course we should pay the pensions on OUR MEP's and any other expense from them. We should not be contributing to anything new in the EU as we would no longer benefit. Of course it is not in our interest to create a financial vacuum in the EU if we want to sell then things so there may be other payments that would be in our advantage too. There is also the thorny issue of how much of the EU assets we 'own'.

The problem is the EU have set a figure, with no breakdown whatsoever (hardly surprising given their accountants were clearly trained by Ms Abbott) and also are now saying there could be more.

It is the EU who are being intransigent, it is how they work which is one reason we are leaving. We should therefore just leave, pay nothing and adopt WTO. If Davis/May have the balls to do this you will soon see that idiot Barnier pushed out the way by Merkel goaded by the like of BMW/VW nd Mercedes. Prper negotiations fair to each side could then take place.

As a Brexiteer this is nothing more than I expected.

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