Commissioners set to slash UK's EU rebate by €1 billion
The Prime Minister is under mounting pressure to allow a cut in the value of the rebate won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Wednesday 21 November 2012
David Cameron will tomorrow go into battle against proposals to cut €1billion (£805m) off Britain’s annual rebate on its contributions to the European Union.
The Prime Minister, already at odds with many of his European counterparts over his demand for a freeze in the EU’s budget for 2014-20, is now under mounting pressure to allow a cut in the value of the rebate won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984.
The Independent has learned that the latest budget proposal circulating in Brussels would reduce the value of the UK rebate from Euros 3.6bn (£2.9bn) to about Euros 2.6bn (£2.1bn). It has been drawn up by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council – the 27 leaders including Mr Cameron who will hold a special budget summit tomorrow (thurs) and Friday. France and Germany are among the countries who will argue that the British rebate, conceded when the UK was among the poorest EU nations, is no longer justified.
Mr Cameron has the power to veto the demand to cut the rebate and allies believe he will do so. If he allowed it to be reduced, he would anger many Tory MPs, and risk unflattering comparisons with their heroine Baroness Thatcher. The rebate reduced Britain’s contribution from Euros 10.9bn (£8.8bn) to Euros 7.3bn last year (£5.9bn).
The Prime Minister’s desire to protect the rebate will put him under more pressure to concede a real terms increase in EU spending. Figures circulating in Brussels suggest his proposed freeze would cap the budget at about Euros 886bn (£713bn) over the seven-year period, while Germany and other nations want the ceiling to be around Euros 950bn (£764bn).
Other countries are making it clear they will not allow Mr Cameron to claim victory on the rebate unless he gives ground on the EU’s spending limit. But Downing Street made clear last night he would stick to his guns on both issues. A Government spokesman said: “We are looking to get the best deal for the UK taxpayer. That means holding down the total level of spending and protecting the UK’s rebate.”
Although other EU members have their own demands, Britain is seen in Brussels as the main stumbling block to a deal. EU diplomats insisted a deal can be done if Mr Cameron is prepared to compromise a little. British sources described Mr Van Rompuy’s latest plan as a “move in the right direction” but said there were still “issues” with the budget ceiling and the UK rebate.
At the summit, Mr Cameron will argue that Britain’s payments into EU coffers have risen because Tony Blair allowed the rebate’s value to be reduced in the last seven-year spending review.
To avoid a total failure at the summit, Mr Van Rompuy may seek an agreement among the 26 other nations. That would put Mr Cameron under pressure to make concessions when talks resumed next year.
The Microsoft mogul told fans a few home truths during his Reddit AMA
First full-length look is finally here
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Teenager brandishing fake gun taken down by police after demanding airtime on Netherlands' NOS TV station
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£29000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: PSV/PCV Mechanics & HGV mechani...
£12500 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest independent Reprogr...
£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...
£120 - £145 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: French & German Teacher X2 Materni...