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Balance of payments

Research exposes paradox in Brexit negotiations

The UK is expected to offer to pay the European Union more than £1 billion a year so that its researchers can continue to participate in EU science and research post Brexit, in a position paper due to be published today. Yet this is merely an opening gambit in the protracted financial wrangling to come.

Overall the UK is a net contributor to the EU. Indeed it was the increasing financial burden of EU membership that led former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher to wield her handbag in the summer of 1984, when she demanded “our money back” from the then European Community. While other member states, including Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, have been allowed temporary reductions in their contributions to the EU budget, the UK is the only one with a permanent rebate. Even so, the Office for Budgetary Responsibility estimates that the UK’s net contribution will be more than £10bn in 2018.

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