13 things you didn’t know about Brexit

13 things you didn’t know about Brexit

A €10 billion budget black hole, more than 20,000 laws and regulations, 1,800 Brits on the EU payroll… and countless other issues. All to be resolved in just two years.

Those are just some of the figures that emerge from 21 different reports on the impact of Brexit compiled by European Parliament policy committees and obtained by POLITICO.

The reports, written between October 2016 and January 2017, provide the most comprehensive collection of official data so far on the challenges facing negotiators on both sides. They also highlight how wide-ranging and complex the negotiations are likely to be.

The documents will serve as the basis of a resolution, most likely in April, setting out the Parliament’s views at the beginning of the negotiation process, a senior Parliament official said.

The European Parliament will not be involved in formal negotiations on Brexit but its consent is required before a final divorce settlement can come into effect. The official said the involvement of the Parliament is important “to keep the timeline under control.†The Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee will be in charge of drafting the assembly’s consent to the final withdrawal agreement.

Here are some key numbers and facts from the reports:

20,833 — EU laws and rules to be scrutinized

This figure is cited in a report by the employment committee. With only around 500 working days between the triggering of Brexit negotiations and the legal deadline for Brexit two years later, negotiators will have to agree on the divorce settlement at a rate of 40 legal measures per day.

12 —Mentions of the U.K. in the Lisbon Treaty that may have to be removed

The Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee says Brexit may mean “at least material changes” to the Lisbon Treaty, the core legal document of the EU, and related protocols and declarations. These include references to exemptions from EU law that the U.K. enjoys in justice and home affairs, the charter of fundamental rights, the Schengen passport-free travel zone and the euro.

5 — Number of years Brussels big brother will be watching

The U.K. will be stuck with financial monitoring by the EU until 2024 because EU-funded projects through to 2019 are subject to “ex-post evaluations†until 2024, the Parliament’s industry committee says.

Parliament officials believe the EU will maintain a significant financial relationship with the U.K., with the industry committee writing: “The U.K. government has promised to guarantee funding beyond the point at which the U.K. leaves the EU, in respect of structural and investment projects where the U.K. bids directly on a competitive basis,†citing university participation in EU research projects as an example.

€10 billion — Size of the EU’s big budget conundrum

EU financing of external programs could be “at risk†no matter when Brexit occurs, said the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, because of the hole left in the EU budget by U.K. withdrawal “if it is not compensated by (the EU27) member states.†The U.K. currently makes a net contribution of around £8.5 billion (€10 billion) per year to EU coffers. It remains to be seen whether the U.K. will make some contributions to the EU budget after Brexit, for example to take part in research programs and student exchange schemes.

During the negotiations, among the big questions to be resolved will be the future of the U.K. role in the Horizon 2020 research and development program, regional funding, the common agricultural policy, rural development and the European Fund for Strategic Investments. Together these funds account for tens of billions of euros in U.K. contributions and receipts.

The budget black hole is also a cause for concern for the European Investment Bank, which would have to “reduce its capabilities to provide loans in third countries in support of EU policies.†Translation: the EU’s efforts to fund its refugee and migration policies through the EIB will be affected by Brexit.

The precise date of Brexit is of crucial relevance: Many parliamentary committees fret over how to recalculate budgets if it occurs before December 31, 2019, when the current EU budget period ends. Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, if the U.K. notifies the EU next month that it intends to leave the bloc, Brexit would take effect two years later, in March 2019 — unless the two sides agree on a different date.

197,893 — Number of EU citizens who could lose rights

The employment committee has calculated that among the 3.3 million EU27 citizens living in the U.K., certain groups of people will be among the first to be affected by Brexit because they would no longer benefit from EU protections. The most vulnerable are 120,000 job-seekers from EU27 countries and 50,893 workers posted to the United Kingdom from another EU country. Also facing an uncertain future are 27,000 people who either cross a U.K. border to get to work (from Spain to Gibraltar or from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, for example) or divide their working time between the U.K. and another EU country.

Students and researchers from the EU27 are another group that is likely to be heavily affected. There are 125,000 students from the rest of the EU studying in the U.K. Fully 15 percent of academic staff at U.K. universities are from other EU countries (compared to just five percent of the general population).

73 — MEPs set for the chopping block

The constitutional affairs committee asks that the European Council revise the composition of the European Parliament well in advance of the 2019 European elections. The council will need to decide whether to remove the U.K’s 73 seats, or redistribute them among the remaining 27 countries so that the Parliament stays at 751 MEPs.

359,953 — Number of financial services ‘passports’ at risk

The Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee identified 16 pieces of pending legislation in banking, capital markets and taxation that could require redrafting depending on Brexit negotiation outcomes, and a further six legislative reviews that might add more issues into the mix between now and 2019.

U.K. financial firms are also set to lose badly if a special deal cannot be arranged to allow them to provide their services from the U.K. into continental European markets.

A total of 5,476 U.K.-registered companies, using 336,421 separate “passports†to do business in the EU27, are at risk, compared to just 23,532 passports held by companies from the EU27 or the European Economic Area for doing business in the U.K.

1 — Big consumer and roaming rights mess

The Consumer Rights Directive presents many thorny issues. Parliament is uncertain about the rights of consumers after Brexit for any purchases they made in another EU country before Brexit, and who will enforce those rights. The EU regulation to end mobile roaming fees will no longer apply after Brexit, notes the industry committee.

42,000,000 — Health hassles for Britons holidaying on the Continent

Britons take 42 million trips into the EU27 each year, and EU27 citizens make 21.5 million trips to the U.K. Today all of them are covered for hospital healthcare by the European Health Insurance card they are entitled to as EU citizens. After Brexit, it’s anyone’s guess.

2 — Multi-billion-euro nuclear problems caused by Brexit

The U.K. government has already announced it will be leaving Euratom, the EU nuclear agency, but its approach to ITER, a multi-billion-euro fusion research project, part of which is based in Culham, England, is unknown.

Also to be resolved: The future of various EU bodies based in the U.K., including the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority. Competition to be the new headquarters for these agencies is fierce.

1  — Peace agreement under the spotlight

Several parliamentary committees are worried about Northern Ireland, partly because EU regional funds were part of the Good Friday peace agreement. The regional policy committee notes that the EU funds a program to support peace and reconciliation in areas around Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland and “it is not clear what the future of the program might be after Brexit.”

3,800 — Brits paid by the EU or receiving EU pensions

Some 1,800 EU staff are British nationals and a further 2,000 Brits receive EU pensions, the budget committee notes under the heading “provisions to be addressed in the ‘Exit’ agreement and the future EU-U.K. relations.” The numbers of people looks small, but the total price tag for dealing with all employment and entitlement issues arising from Brexit is likely to run to €7 billion, according to a European Commission source.

So even after Brexit, a good number of Brits will still have financial ties to the EU for decades to come. Some junior British staff at the European Parliament, for example, are still in their early twenties. By the time they retire, most pensions will kick in only at around age 70 — about 45 years after Brexit has taken place.

0 — U.K.’s use of the globalization adjustment funds before the Brexit referendum

Up until 2016, the U.K. had never applied for money from the European Globalization Adjustment Fund, one of the EU’s key measures to help fired workers cope with the challenges of the global economy, according to the employment committee. The effects of globalization are often cited among the key reasons many Brits voted for Brexit.


1,499 — number of words (give or take a few) that you’ve just read about Brexit’s key numbers.