Just in case you were one of the half dozen or so people who thought that Brexit would be a simple affair, the UK's House of Lords European Union Committee has produced a report. Published yesterday, Brexit and the EU Budget is a 65-page analysis, with hyperlinks to the detailed evidence given on more than 70 questions and references to a multitude of EU-related documents. As one expert witness put it, there are 'many unknowns'. The chairman asked: 'Are these known unknowns or unknown unknowns?' The response was: 'All of them'.
The report covers the UK's potential liabilities to the EU and details the kinds of asset over which it might have a claim. Estimates in the media have claimed the net UK exit 'bill' as being anywhere from zero to 60 billion euros or more, and these different takes are analysed. However, the general conclusion is that all of this comes down to politics and a trade-off between different areas as part of the broader exit negotiations. It is not a thrilling read, but an instructive one that spells out the complex web of relationships within the EU.
Tony Norfield, 5 March 2017