As the EU summit stays deadlocked, we look at the same summit one year ago.

Graham Charles Lear
3 min readJul 2, 2019


The ‘off-budget’ €⅓ billion which Theresa gave the EU to save Angela.

How Theresa splashed taxpayer cash and still failed to get a sensible Brexit deal

As the current emergency end-June summit of EU leaders goes into yet another day still deadlocked, Brexit lets look back to the EU’s end-June summit in 2018.

The current EU summit is actually making it into the media because of the shambles it has become. A year ago, the same attention was not given to what Theresa May did in the June summit of 2018, in a failed attempt to curry favor with Angela Merkel.

Theresa splashed taxpayer cash for an EU ‘off-budget’ fund

At the June 2018 EU summit, Theresa May agreed to pay a voluntary €⅓ billion, on top of the voluntary €⅓ billion David Cameron had already agreed to, into an off-budget EU fund for Turkey. None of this money was ever counted as part of the UK’s net contributions to the EU.

Mrs. May also agreed to further payments from an EU reserve into a ‘Trust Fund for Africa’.

In the 11-page EU Council, Conclusions document from that summit is the following.

“The European Council agrees on launching the second tranche of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey and at the same time on transferring 500 million euro from the 11th EDF reserve to the EU Trust Fund for Africa. Member States are moreover called upon to contribute further to the EU Trust Fund for Africa with a view to its replenishment.”

EU Council conclusions, 30 Jun 2018

What is the EU’s ‘Facility for Refugees in Turkey’?

The ‘Facility for Refugees in Turkey’ is an off-budget, off-the-books EU fund devised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in late 2015 to encourage President Erdogan of Turkey to stem the flow of migrants flooding into the EU as a result of Merkel’s ‘all welcome here’ policy.

This specifically relates to a Schengen problem — and the UK is not part of Schengen. Nevertheless, the UK agreed in 2016 to pay 16.5% of the first €3 billion funds. At its summit in June 2018, the EU Council formally considered the second tranche of €3 billion and approved it.

That makes a total of €6 billion. €2 billion of this comes from the EU budget into which the UK makes its annual contributions.

The remaining €4 billion is in effect voluntary. It is not in the EU Treaties nor in the approved budgets and it was requested to come from individual member states. David Cameron agreed on the first half of this in 2016.

Mrs. May agreed on the second half of it a year ago, despite being (ostensibly) only nine months away from leaving the EU. The additional voluntary contribution from the UK was circa €330 million euros. That made almost two-thirds of a billion euros in total, for this one fund in addition to its share of the €2 billion from the EU budget. And this does not include payment into the other off-the-books fund in the EU Council’s conclusions that day: the EU Trust Fund for Africa.

It is very important to note that the money referred to was a voluntary donation and that it was NOT included in the official figures for the UK’s ‘net annual contribution’ to the EU.

At the time I wrote Mrs. May still appears to believe that if she is nice to Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, they will respond in kind. They won’t. That’s not how the EU works.“I would like to know why Theresa May agreed to this additional payment to the EU when it is for a fund devised to sort out Chancellor Merkel’s problems. I would also like to know if this payment has been made conditional on a Brexit deal. If not, why not?”

The extra, voluntary funding for this EU programme, agreed to by Theresa May, could have paid the salaries of 10,000 nurses for a year.



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.