Professor Iain Begg, Research Fellow at the London School of Economics, describes the House of Lords report as “contentious”. He told FactCheck that the conclusion “was based on an opinion, but when you read the report it’s a lot more nuanced.”
“The logic goes that when you leave an entity you no longer have a financial commitment” he says. But “the contrary view is that we signed a regulation in 2013 that sets the Medium-Term Budgetary Framework that ends in 2020.”
Hang on, “Medium-Term Budgetary Framework”? EU member states commit to fund projects (like infrastructure investment) in seven-year cycles. We are trying to leave the EU before the end of the current one.
The £39 billion divorce bill is the figure Westminster and Brussels have arrived at to cover the outstanding budget contributions we committed to paying in 2013, and which we would have been paying in 2019 and 2020 were we not leaving the EU. There are also some commitments (like pension contributions) that go beyond 2020, which will be settled in the divorce bill.
Professor Begg says that because the UK signed the 2014-2020 Framework, “you could argue we’re bound to that.”