The European Union (EU) could withhold Britain’s €5 billion budget rebate, with negotiators issuing a two-week deadline for meeting their unwavering demand for a €60 billion (£53.6 billion) Brexit ‘divorce bill.’
The late Baroness Margret Thatcher famously secured the rebate in 1984, after arguing Britain’s contribution to EU coffers was disproportionately large as the UK received less in agriculture subsidies.
Sources have told the Telegraph the future of the €5 billion (£4.46 billion) rebate has not yet been settled with the EU and it could potentially be withheld when the UK leaves the bloc in March 2019.
So far, British negotiators have indicated they are willing to pay €20 to €50 billion. The EU wants more, has refused to compromise over the amount and threatened to block talks progressing unless its demands are met.
After an EU summit in Sweden Yesterday, European Council President Donald Tusk renewed the threat and issues a two-week deadline for the UK to obey.
He said that “much more progress” was needed on the bill and issue of the Irish border, with British concessions to be delivered “at the beginning of December at the latest”.
He went on to mock Brexit Secretary David Davis for suggesting it was time for the EU side to also make some concessions. “I can say only that I really appreciate Mr. Davis’s English sense of humour,” Mr. Tusk added.
Poll: Brits ‘Losing Confidence’ in Brexit Talks, Majority Think EU out to Punish UK
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 13, 2017
According to the Telegraph, the rebate has come up in the negotiations a number of times. It is paid a year in arrears, meaning the final payment for 2018 would fall after Britain’s departure.
British negotiators believe that there is no legal basis for denying the UK its final payment, but the European Commission is understood not to see it as part of the Brexit bill calculation. EU officials declined to comment.
A source with knowledge of the negotiations said: “The EU guidelines talk about the application of the ‘own resources decision’ in all its elements, and one of those ‘elements’ is the UK rebate.
“So if it is being applied in all its various guises, that includes the application of the UK correction.”