Officials in Brussels want the power to make “annual technical adjustments” to the gargantuan tab even after it has been agreed with Britain, adding on extra demands for cash every year.The jaw-dropping move means the mooted £52bn bill could continue to grow in size years into the future, with the UK still being asked to cough up more money even after it has left the bloc.
GETTY Jean-Claude Juncker will meet Theresa May next week
It is likely to provoke fury amongst eurosceptics and stun the Government, which is already under intense pressure to resist Brussels’ astonishing demands for cash.Previously it had been thought that eurocrats would present the UK with one final payable amount for leaving, calculated on the basis of commitments Britain has already made to current and future EU projects.
But now, with the bloc’s budget facing a massive squeeze after Brexit, that stance appears to have altered and officials want to stagger the payments so they can continue to bolt extra demands on.The move would leave UK taxpayers open to the whims of European politicians who could up the budgets of certain projects in the knowledge that doing so would increase the British contribution.
Officials are also insisting that the Brexit bill is subject to oversight by the Commission and the EU Court of Auditors, meaning the bloc could take legal action to recover cash from Britain if the Government refuses to pay.
The bombshell was revealed in draft negotiating guidelines produced by Jean-Claude Juncker’s EU Commission ahead of the formal Brexit negotiations starting in early June.
In the document, leaked to Politico, eurocrats call for a “single financial settlement related to the Union budget and related to the termination of the membership of the United Kingdom”.
They say this would include the UK’s contributions and loans with the European Central Bank and Investment Bank, as well as its participation in projects such as the European Development Fund and the Turkey refugee deal.The guidelines state: “This single financial settlement should be based on the principle that the United Kingdom must honour its share of the financing of all the obligations undertaken while it was a member of the Union.”
However, officials then drop a bombshell as they delve into the detail of exactly what the “single financial settlement” would entail for the UK Government.
They said it should include “a calculation of the global amount that the United Kingdom has to honour in order to settle its financial obligations toward the Union budget, all institutions or bodies established by the Treaties, and other issues with a financial impact”.
They then add: “The global amount may be subject to future annual technical adjustments.”
According to the guidelines, the UK will also have to “fully cover” the cost of relocating EU agencies currently in Britain, such as the European medicine and banking headquarters, to the continent.And in a provocative move they insist that the final Brexit bill must be paid in euros, and not pounds, which will be interpreted as a power play to show Number 10 who is leading the negotiaions.
Mr Juncker, along with his chief negotiator Michel Barnier, will visit Theresa May in London next Wednesday to discuss the Commission’s Brexit red lines.
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