Buying Britain out - the price of leaving the EU
Alex Barker, the Brussels Editor of the Financial Times, has done us all a favour. In a new paper for the Centre for European Reform he has plunged into the unpleasant and confusing world of the EU budget to try and figure out answers to these important questions.
The biggest chunk of the bill is for spending commitments over the course of the EU's 2014-2020 multi annual budget framework. A key issue here is a rather antique French state accounting concept known as RAL - Reste a Liquider - roughly translated as "yet to be paid". By 2018 Barker estimates there will be a RAL of some €241 billion. More than half of this is for cohesion spending (for the new member states to catch up), and a fifth each for Agriculture and Research. Because the budget was late in being agreed, a lot of the spending has not taken place yet. In fact most of the cohesion payments - about 70% - are back-loaded into the years after Britain has left the EU.