EU inflation-busting budget criticised

 

The Government launched a new assault on euro-spending today as Brussels called for an inflation-busting budget for next year.

The European Commission said a rise of nearly 7% for 2013 was needed to pay bills for EU projects already signed off by member states.

One official said: "It's the difference between the commitments made on the EU budget, and the payments needed to honour them.

"Member states have been using the credit card and have left the Commission to pay the bill."

But a UK spokesman said: "The UK has been consistent that at a time when member states are tightening their belts, the EU must show budgetary restraint."

The UK, Germany and France have led a months-long fightback to force Brussels to apply national-style belt-tightening to the euro-budget.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been calling for an effective freeze on EU spending during the economic crisis.

That means nothing more than inflation-linked annual rises in the amount of cash the 27 EU counties between them provide to run the EU's financial programmes, from farm subsidies and regional grants to development aid spending.

A similar battle last year saw the Commission's plans pegged back to an inflation-only rise, but Brussels says it cannot act as budget paymaster if member states do not provide enough cash this year to pay for spending commitments already made and now due for payment.

The Commission's plans would increase the EU budget to about £130 billion next year, of which the UK's share is nearly 12.5%.

In forthcoming haggling over the final budget figure, the Commission will argue that the EU budget cannot be equated with national budgets.

Officials point out that euro-spending is fed back to governments to finance major projects including road and rail networks across Europe, social regeneration of poor areas and to tackle "pan-European societal challenges" such as climate change, or the ageing society.

These are long-term issues for which financing by the Brussels purse replaces cash lost at home through austerity measures.

A Commission statement said Brussels was "fully aware" of the current economic situation, insisting the budget plan was "fully-geared to use its funding potential for growth and jobs in line with the Europe 2020 strategy".

The euro-budget is equivalent to about 1% of combined EU member state national wealth.

It said: "Though relatively small in size, it is an important tool in furthering the goals of European integration. Directly or indirectly, all European citizens benefit from some activity funded from the EU budget, be it in the form of safer food on our plates, better roads, or the guaranteeing of our fundamental rights."

Apart from anything else, says the Commission, failure to agree a rise of 6.8% next year will leave Brussels about £160 billion short of meeting all the financial commitments already made to recipients of EU funds next year.

But former EU chief accountant Marta Andreasen - now a UK Independence Party MEP - said a 6.8% increase was "cloud-cuckoo land stuff".

She said: "Has the European Commission finally completely lost its grip on reality?

"The Commission has the gall to ask EU citizens for more money, assuring them that the new 2020 Agenda will lead them to the promised land."

She added: "The budget rise demand is selfish, unrealistic and deeply insulting to taxpayers who have not seen a single return on their investment. Instead they are subjected to huge waste, dodgy accounting and vanity projects."

PA

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Life and Style
life
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Research and Insight Analyst (Mathematics Graduate)

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

IT Support Manager - Staffordshire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Manager - Near...

Nursery assistants required for day to day roles in Cambridge

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40 - £50K first year: SThree: SThree Group an...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone