Brexit: Jeremy Vine says EU is looking to 'waterboard' UK
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The bloc’s latest budget report reveals the UK will recoup the cash from penalties levied against firms, including tech giant Google. Under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, Britain is entitled to a share of all fines issued by the EU before the end of last year – the end of the UK’s transition out of the bloc. Brussels’ powerful competition chief Margrethe Vestager has brought in billions of euros after going after firms, including Google, for corporate wrongdoings.
This includes £7.7 billion slapped on the tech giant’s parent company Alphabet to date.
The EU holds a giant cash pot of fines it has extracted from firms until companies have exhausted court challenges that seek to overturn the penalties.
Google is waiting to hear from the results from the EU’s General Court for its first challenge of a £2 billion for unfairly promoting its shaping service.
If that fails, it could still appeal to the European Court of Justice, the bloc’s top court, to have the fines overturned.
Google has also appealed two other penalties, with verdicts on those expected at a later date.
If the firm wins, it gets its cash back from Brussels.
But if its ECJ appeals fail, the European Commission simply adds the money to its budget, which is usually funded by member states.
The UK was included in the EU’s budget until the end of last year when the post-Brexit transition period expired.
The total amount of outstanding competition fines under appeal currently standards at some £11.5 billion.
The EU’s budget report states: “In the annual accounts, the amounts owed to the UK as a result of fines are deducted from the overall amount due by the UK.
“As of December 31, 2020, the estimated UK share of outstanding fines is EUR 1.8 billion.
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“This amount will be returned to the UK over a long period of time.
“The figure is based on the outstanding cases at December 31, 2020 and it may change, to reflect the actual amounts entered into the budget after the fines have become definitive.”
Britain is still paying into the EU’s budget as part of the Brexit divorce bill settlement.
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According to the report, some £42 billion is owed to the bloc before any deductions.
Currently, £1.8 billion is earmarked to be discounted from the bill because the EU owes Britain some money back in return, including the competition fines.
The Brexit settlement covers things like pension payments to UK staff previously employed by the EU up until the end of the transition period and projected committed to by Britain while still a member.
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