The UK will not be legally obliged to contribute to the European Union’s budget if no exit deal is reached, according to a report by Parliament, which will likely raise tensions with Brussels during Brexit talks.
Britain could exit the European Union in 2019 without paying a €60 billion (£52 billion) Brexit bill requested by the European Commission, says a report published on Saturday by the Lords’ European Union committee.
The Lord’ committee acknowledged, however, that generous payments might be “impossible” to avoid, for example to ensure future access to the EU single market.
“We conclude that if agreement is not reached, all EU law — including provisions concerning ongoing financial contributions . . . will cease to apply and the UK would be subject to no enforceable obligation to make any financial contribution at all,” the report said.
Britain currently provides about 12 percent of the EU’s budget, meaning its exit from the bloc will impose larger financial burdens on other major contributors, such as Germany and France.
With the British Prime Minister Theresa May expected to trigger Article 50 of the EU Treaty this month, beginning the process of withdrawing, the exit bill is expected to prompt the first major row between London and Brussels.
Senior EU figures have suggested repeatedly that any talks on a new free-trade deal will have to wait until the issue is resolved.
The UK government is hoping to conduct its Brexit talks in parallel with negotiations over an ambitious trade agreement during the two-year exit talks.
However, EU officials are demanding that London first give assurances that it will make good on its financial obligations, which it calculates as around 60 billion euros.