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UK lawmakers mull post-Brexit profit claim from European Investment Bank

A U.K. parliamentary report into a £39 billion bill Britain has agreed to pay to the EU to quit the bloc, says the country could have a claim on profits from the European Investment Bank Group, or EIB.

The report, produced by a committee of Parliament's upper chamber, the House of Lords, titled Brexit: the financial settlement, says the U.K. could have a claim EU assets through its membership of the EIB, which is only open to member states.

The report notes that the financial settlement contained within the Withdrawal Agreement under which Britain will quit the EU provides for the U.K. to be repaid €3.5 billion of capital from its membership of the EIB, though only over a 12-year period.

It says that this figure did not take account of the EIB’s accumulated profits. In a previous report, the Lords’ EU Financial Affairs sub-committee calculated the U.K.’s share of these profits could be around €7.6 billion.

However, new legal opinion canvassed by the committee was split on whether the U.K. was entitled to a share of the profits. One lawyer, Samuel Wordsworth, while acknowledging that it might be seen as "a rather inequitable situation" said the U.K. did not have a right to the sum.

However, another lawyer Martin Howe disagreed and said the U.K. had a legal rather than merely a moral claim to the sum. Howe said he could see "no credible argument for the UK being liable for the EU’s pension fund deficit without also being entitled to a corresponding share of the EU’s assets."

The report concludes, however, that there would be serious implications for future negotiations with the EU and the U.K.’s wider reputation if the U.K. did not honor the terms of the financial settlement agreed within the Withdrawal Agreement.