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Why Britain must pay its Brexit divorce bill, irrespective of future or transition arrangements. It is money we have already committed to.


As he suggested the UK could walk away from its £39 billion Brexit divorce bill in case of no deal with the EU, a quick reminder to Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.


Let’s examine all the legal decisions Britain has agreed to that led to the financing of a single EU project: a nutrition project in Pakistan.

Why this project? Because the Programme for Improved Nutrition in the Pakistani province of Sindh (PINS) was committed to in 2016, and payments will still need to be made to meet that commitment after Brexit day.

Here is the project’s fiche. The contribution was for an amount of €60 million from the general budget of the European Union.

This is part of an Annual Action Programme 2016-2017, a Commission Decision agreed by Member States in a Committee.

This was based on a strategy document, a Multi-Annual Indicative Programme, also agreed by Member States in Committee.

This is not in itself a legal decision, but it was agreed to by the UK, and it is legally required by regulation. All of the above has its legal base in the Development Cooperation Instrument, Regulation 233/2014.

I was the lead UK negotiator for that regulation in Council. It was also agreed by the European Parliament.

The Commitment of funds for the project is based on the commitments agreed in the 2016 Annual Budget. This Commitment is to make payments over the 3 (possibly 4/5) years after the commitment is made — i.e. 2017-2019 (possibly 2020/2021).

You do not pay for a big project in a lump sum, but over the years it is implemented, checking it is working before paying each instalment.

This Annual Budget was based on the ceilings agreed in the Multiannual Indicative Programme (MFF) 2014-2020. This is a Council Regulation, and was agreed by Heads of State and Government in 2013.

You may remember the then-PM hailing this as something Britain could be proud of, and it was a big win for the UK. “Britain can be proud of EU budget cut, says Cameron” (Telegraph).

The MFF underwent a mid-term review, and was amended in 2017 (after our project was agreed, but before Brexit).


Click here!!


The MFF is required by the Lisbon Treaty that the UK signed. It is article 312.

The Annual Budget is based on Article 314 of the Lisbon Treaty.

The DCI Regulation is based on Article 208 (Development Cooperation) and Article 212 (Economic, financial and technical cooperation with third countries) of the Lisbon Treaty.

So, those are the legal acts that the UK agreed to that makes a commitment to spend on just one project after Brexit Day.

There are thousands of other such projects. Projects like this, agreed in 2018, will require payments until 2021 and beyond.

Britain should pay its share of these, irrespective of future or transition arrangements. It is money we have already committed to.

P.S. The reason so much law is needed is to ensure Member States and the European Parliament maintain democratic control. It is THEY who insist on it.🔷


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(This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected.)


(Cover: Pixabay - Camp in Pakistan.)


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Immigrant, Musician, Sound Engineer, ex-negotiator for UK in EU, Brexit geek for Alyn Smith MEP (views mine, not his), anti-Brexit campaigner, CakeWatch co-host.
Brussels, Belgium, EU. Website

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