Bid for support to cut UK’s EU bill

Published: Wednesday 29th October 2014 by The News Editor

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George Osborne will today attempt to rally support for a cut to the £1.7 billion bill Brussels has served on Britain.

The Chancellor is expected to hold talks with German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble and other European Union counterparts in the margins of a tax evasion summit in Berlin.

David Cameron has insisted the UK will not pay “anything like” the amount being demanded by the European Commission as an additional contribution to EU budgets.

He secured agreement at last week’s European Council for the issue to be discussed at a scheduled meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels on November 7.

But D enmark’s prime minister yesterday poured cold water on Britain’s hopes of reducing the surcharge, insisting that “countries must follow the rules as they are”.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt told the Bloomberg news agency: “I respect that the UK wants to discuss this among ministers, but there are rules that must be kept. Countries must follow the rules as they are.”

The UK’s surcharge was based on “statistical models” which meant that “some countries pay and others receive”, she said, adding: “You’ve got to follow the rules.”

EU budget commissioner Jacek Dominik warned Britain would be opening a “Pandora’s box” – including possible reconsideration of its annual £3 billion rebate – if it sought to renegotiate the figure, and faced fines if it failed to pay up by the deadline of December 1.

Senior British diplomats were in talks in Brussels yesterday about the massive bill and Mr Osborne is expected to raise the issue with fellow EU finance ministers, including Mr Schauble, in the margins of an OECD forum in the German capital today.

The changes to contributions resulted from a reassessment of national incomes carried out by statistics authorities in each of the 28 member states, and led to large demands for extra money from Britain, the Netherlands, Italy and Greece, while countries like France and Germany stand to gain to the tune of hundreds of millions of euros.

Published: Wednesday 29th October 2014 by The News Editor

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