UK could claim share of EU assets in Brexit talks, says CIPFA

17 Feb 17

The UK will be in a strong negotiating position to claim a share of EU assets accrued during the country’s membership of the economic bloc as part of Brexit negotiations, according to CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman.

Welcoming reports that the government was preparing to demand a share of European Union assets in an attempt to cut the contributions that the UK would need to make to cover EU liabilities, Whiteman said EU negotiators must remember that there are two sides to a balance sheet.

According to a report in The Times, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, is preparing a list of up to €60bn of liabilities. Correspondingly, government officials are understood to be drawing up an asset list to which it believes that the UK could be entitled to a share of.

According to an analysis by the think-tank Bruegel, the EU had assets worth around €153.7bn at the end of 2015.
CIPFA stated that while the EU will request that the UK meets a fair share of the liabilities accrued since 1973, the UK has also been a major net funder for assets accrued over the same period.

"The EU’s financial position is clear in that it uses a full accrual accounting based on International Public Sector Accounting Standards that are in line with international good financial reporting practice. This replicates the UK government's own practice, though sadly not all individual EU member states have robust accounting and reporting practices for their own government finances,” Whiteman stated.

“The EU's annual balance sheet therefore has been through an independent audit process and so provides a good basis on which the UK government can seek compensation for the assets accrued during UK membership of the EU.”

This gives the UK “a strong negotiating position” to claim some assets, he added.

“In asking for the UK to meet liabilities, EU negotiators must remember that there are two sides to a balance sheet.”


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