Brussels demands the UK foots the bill to relocate London-based EU agencies after Brexit

A Union Jack flag flutters next to European Union flags ahead of a visit from Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels
The EU wants Britain to pay for relocating its own agencies away from London                                   CREDIT:YVES HERMAN/REUTERS

The European Union is expecting Britain to pay the full cost of relocating two major EU agencies from London back to the EU after Brexit, in the latest signal that Brussels intends to play hardball over the costs of UK withdrawal from Europe.

The plan, revealed in a leaked draft of the European Commission’s Brexit negotiating mandate, looks certain to raise the temperature of the debate over Britain’s so-called ‘Brexit bill’.

Europe is expecting to reclaim two of its most prestigious UK-based agencies, covering banking and medicine regulations, which employ hundreds of highly skilled staff in offices based in London’s Docklands.

Last week David Davis, the Brexit secretary, indicated that Britain did not accept that the agencies would necessarily have to be relocated inside the EU after Brexit – a position that was swiftly rejected by senior figures across Europe.

David Davis leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on April 19, 2017
David Davis’s assertion that the agencies don’t have to leave the UK was given short shrift                                            CREDIT: CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP

According to the leaked draft negotiating mandate obtained by Politico Europe, the EU side not only wants the agencies relocated inside the EU, but wants Britain to pay the costs too.

“The United Kingdom should fully cover the specific costs related to the withdrawal process such as the relocation of the agencies or other Union bodies,” the Commission writes in the eight-page document.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission adds that the UK’s financial obligations – which could hit €60bn according to informal EU estimates – should be “defined in euro” rather than sterling, further inflating the bill given the fall in the value of the pound since last June’s referendum.

(drag the icon around the arc to vote)

More than 20 EU countries are expected to bid for the right to host one of the two offices of the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which employs some 900 EU nationals from all over the continent.

The document was leaked ahead of Jean-Claude Juncker meeting with Theresa May in London next week to discuss the coming negotiations.

London's Docklands
The European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) employ some 900 EU nationals in London’s Docklands CREDIT: CHRIS RATCLIFFE/BLOOMBERG

UK officials have made clear that they do not recognise the European Commission’s €60bn calculation of what it is owed, which includes a host of commitments to future projects and historical liabilities.

The Commission’s draft negotiating mandate, which could yet be modified by EU member states, is the detailed negotiating instruction which will be handed to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, before talks begin in June.

Donald Tusk (L), President of the European Council and Jean-Claude Juncker (R), President of the European Commission
Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker  CREDIT: DOMENIC AQUILINA/EPA

They are based on broader ‘guidelines’ which were published by Donald Tusk, the European Council president last month, and are due to be agreed at a European leaders’ summit on April 29.

Europe has made clear that it will not grant Mrs May’s demand to hold talks on the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU until the Brexit bill has been settled by agreeing a methodology for its calculation.

The document also provides more detail on Europe’s second demand that an agreement is reached protecting the rights of EU and UK citizens after Brexit, before trade talks begin.

British officials have spoken of the need to reach a broad agreement on reciprocal rights, but the document is clear that that EU will demand high levels of legal and technical certainty before agreeing to move on to talks on the future UK-EU relations.

These will include issues such as how to give legal protection to pension and other rights, for “the lifetime of those concerned” and the question of when the cut-off date should fall for EU citizens hoping to obtain permanent UK status after five years of legal residence.


  • Steve
    20th April 2017 - 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Regarding these ransom demands, we should ask them to show us their balanced books and we will consider it, We wont of of course and they can not produce balanced books anyway. I see no way now that we can do anything but just walk away. But I would like Us to demand our assets back. Time we put the boot on the other foot.

  • 20th April 2017 - 8:53 pm | Permalink

    The EU are coming up with evermore impossible demands. Too ludicrous to be passed off as opening gambits in any negotiation. On top of this, the EU wish us to not only pay the £50 Billion, they want it in Euros so that it costs us more and to spread the cost over annual payments so that they can increase the amount that they say is payable year on year at every whim that the EU comes up with in the way of EU policy and debt.

    It has got to the stage now where any normal person would believe that the EU is intent in forcing us to walk away before negotiations begin.

    This is actually not too far fetched. The EU would have to rewrite the Masstricht Treaty to allow Britain to have its wish for trade but without one of the ‘Four Pillars’: Freedom movement They know that is just not going to happen because even though ‘Treaties’ now comes under the competence of QMV, they would be extremely hard pressed to get it ratified by the European Parliament.

    Britain’s Membership of the EU is incompatible with both the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and, more importantly, the British Constitution as it abrogates the fundamental rights of British People as laid out in the Bill of Rights:1689. Either one would be sufficient reason for Britain to declare our Membership to be illegal and just walk away within International Law.

    As Gerard Batten writes in his book ‘Road to Freedom’; such a scenario would be best for both sides as it would avoid abrogating EU Law and would restore our rights under the British Constitution. The EU could then treat Britain as a ‘Third Country’ and enter into a trading agreement agreeable to both sides as though we were never in the EU. A face saving device for both sides.

  • Jane Davies
    20th April 2017 - 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Tell them they can use the offices vacated by the British MEP’s and then go swivel.

  • Help put the World to rights and leave a Comment

    Powered by: Wordpress
    %d bloggers like this: