European Law Monitor

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Vote Leave misrepresentations on future euro bailouts

Falsity of the statement

In the Vote Leave campaign publication “Taking back control from Brussels”, it states that “Losing control costs a fortune – if you vote 'remain' you’ll be paying for euro bailouts.”

This is factually incorrect, as it was agreed by EU leaders at the European Council meeting in February that the UK would not have to pay for future euro bailouts, provided the UK remained a member.  Section A (3) of the European Council conclusions of the 18th and 19th of February states on page 15 that:

“Emergency and crisis measures designed to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area will not entail budgetary responsibility for Member States whose currency is not the euro, or, as the case may be, for those not participating in the banking union. 

Appropriate mechanisms to ensure full reimbursement will be established where the general budget of the Union supports costs, other than administrative costs, that derive from the emergency and crisis measures referred to in the first subparagraph”.

This means that in the event of another euro bailout being required, the UK would not have to contribute (following this political agreement), and any part of the general budget that was used for euro bailouts would be reimbursed back to the UK. Whilst decisions of the European Council are politically binding, rather than legally binding, Member States do not as a rule renege on political agreements, and Vote Leave provided no supporting evidence to suggest that the Member States would not honour this agreement. So, as a matter of practice, there was every reason to suggest that the UK would not be paying for future euro bailouts. Therefore, this statement by Vote Leave is misleading,

Evidence that this statement misled the electorate

An Ipsos Mori poll found that nearly half of the British public (48%) believed Vote Leave’s claim that if Britain remained in the EU that it would be made to pay billions of pounds to bail out Eurozone countries. This poll strongly supports the view that the above statement by Vote Leave misled the electorate.