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Cameron refuses to pay EU budget bill

European Council discussions were overtaken by a row over an EU budget bill presented to nine member states.

David Cameron, the prime minister of the UK, said on 24 October, that he will not pay a €2.1 billion bill to top-up the EU budget by a deadline of 1 December.

Member states were told during the past week about adjustments to their contributions to the EU budget, but the news did not become known to the public or, apparently, to EU leaders, until last night. The adjustment takes into account changes in the gross domestic product of member states and will mean that nine countries have to pay more this year. The deadline for the top-up payment is 1 December.

“I’m not paying that bill on 1 December, if people think I am they’ve got another thing coming,” Cameron told journalists after the summit, pounding his fists on the podium. “This is an unacceptable way for this organisation to work and an unacceptable way to treat one of the main contributors to the EU budget.”

The UK received the largest bill of any country – €2.1 billion. The Netherlands will have to pay an additional €640 million and Italy will have to pay €340m. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Latvia and Malta will also have to pay more. The other 19 member states will receive rebates.

Cameron said that his treasury department learned about the bill earlier this week, but he found out only last night. The readjustment was calculated by a committee of member state representatives, which would have included someone from the UK.

Cameron said he “interrupted” a discussion on economic issues this morning to demand an explanation for the bill. He said he identified the other countries who would have to pay more and got them on side – particularly the leaders of Italy, Malta, Greece and the Netherlands.

The Commission issued a memo tonight explaining where the adjustment comes from. It says that, contrary to some reports, the adjustment is not because of a new method of calculating economic output but is down to changes in economic circumstances since 2002.

José Manuel Barroso, the outgoing president of the European Commission, said after the summit that the calculations now being contested by the UK had been reached based on figures supplied by the UK’s and the EU’s statistical offices, both of which are independent.

He said the calculations were based on rules that had been set by the EU’s member states – against, he noted, recommendations from the European Commission (which had argued for ways for the EU to raise its own revenue, independently of member states).

Barroso refused to speculate what the Commission would do if, as Cameron has threatened, the UK refuses to pay the bill.

Source: http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/cameron-refuses-to-pay-eu-budget-bill/

 

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