The EU could be forced to stump up a massive repayment
In one final swipe to Brussels bureaucrats, the European Union could be forced to stump up a massive repayment for Britain’s share in its property empire, cash and other net assets.
It is expected the cash will be used to offset the financial liabilities Britain takes on during Brexit negotiations.
But a bitter fight with Eurocrats to claim the cash is expected, given Brussels’ fury over Britain’s momentous decision to leave the 27-member bloc.
Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23
Whitehall’s demands will come as a slap in the face to Brussels' chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, who is currently preparing a list to put pressure on Britain to pay £51bn (€60bn) in liabilities, including spending commitments, before its official exit.
However the Government is expected to argue that as the EU’s second largest net contributor and member for more than 40 years, it is entitled to its fair share of Brussels’ £129.6bn (€152.5bn) assets.
Bruegel, an independent think tank in Brussels, has attempted to estimate the scale of the EU’s assets.
Placing them at having £130bn (€153.7bn) at the end of 2015, some £34.8bn (€41bn) is considered as the EU’s ‘accumulated wealth’. This includes cash (£18.44bn), property (€8.7billion), available-for-sales financial assets (€8.2bn) and other assets (£0.85bn).
Bruegel estimate Britain could be owed a share in the £34.8bn (€41bn) of assets, according to its blog.
Meanwhile, the outstanding amount of loans granted by the EU was about £47.6bn (€56bn) at the end of 2015.
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Britain may receive a massive payment from EU assets
If EU borrowing is considered as a liability, apportioned to the UK’s Brexit, the loans could be apportioned to the UK as an asset, according to the think tank.
Zsolt Darvas, an author of the Bruegel report, said the estimates were based on before Article 50 is triggered.
He told The Times: “I could imagine that there will be different shares for the assets and the liabilities.
“One reason for that is that in terms of the liabilities they have been agreed by all member countries, but for the assets it would be wrong to treat Britain the same as Croatia, that has only been a member for a few years.”