Real-terms cut in EU budget urged

 

David Cameron is facing a fresh mutiny over Europe after Tory backbenchers and Labour demanded a real-terms cut in the EU budget.

The Prime Minister has been fighting proposals from the European Commission that would see a 5% hike over the next seven years.

Instead, he wants spending to rise only in line with inflation - currently around 2%.

But Mr Cameron is set to come under intense pressure from his own side and the Opposition on Wednesday when the Commons debates the government negotiating strategy for next month's crunch EU summit.

Conservative MPs Mark Reckless and Mark Pritchard are tabling an amendment insisting that any budget rises should be below inflation.

Senior backbenchers John Redwood and Bill Cash are also believed to be among those backing the text.

Mr Pritchard, who played a prominent role when 81 rebels voted for a referendum on Europe last year, said Mr Cameron should be ready to show "real fiscal leadership" and wield the veto.

"At a time of fiscal restraint for both families in the UK and families throughout the EU, it is unacceptable that there should be any increase in the EU budget," he said.

"The EU is a wasteful and profligate entity which needs to find savings rather than new ways to spend UK taxpayers' money.

"The Prime Minister needs to show real fiscal leadership on this issue and be prepared to exercise his veto if the EU do not listen."

Writing on his blog this morning, Mr Reckless insisted the suggestion in the amendment was not "excessively radical".

"Although many of us would wish to see a substantial reduction in EU spending, at least in line with cuts at home, today we are only asking the Government to strengthen its stance so that there is some real-terms reduction in the EU budget," he said.

"Some real-terms reduction is surely not an unachievable or excessively radical goal, given the extent to which we and other EU countries are making less palatable cuts at home.

"Parliament must also set the negotiating position because any budget settlement will require us to pass primary legislation."

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls and shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander used an article in The Times today to say that, like the governments of its 27 member states, the EU should accept that it must cut spending in the current austere economic conditions.

"The crisis in the eurozone and a chronic lack of growth across the continent mean that EU resources are stretched and priorities must be revised," they wrote.

"The challenge for the EU, as for national governments, is to cut spending in a way that is both fair and supports rather than stifles jobs and growth.

"That is why the priority for the new seven-year budget must be to promote growth and jobs across Europe.

"And that is why Labour will argue against the proposed increase in EU spending and instead support a real-terms cut in the budget. We believe these goals are difficult but achievable with the right leadership and the right approach from the UK."

Mr Balls and Mr Alexander called for savings from the Common Agricultural Policy and from more effective use of the EU's structural funds to support disadvantaged areas of the continent.

They said that an independent EU auditor should be appointed to review every aspect of spending for its impact on promoting growth in member states.

But they said that Mr Cameron was not in a position to deliver the best outcomes for the UK.

"The real tragedy for Britain is that at the very time when our leadership is most needed, the UK's influence has rarely been so marginalised," said the Labour pair.

"As a result of David Cameron's behaviour, those we used to call friends now ridicule the Prime Minister in meetings, shut him out of negotiations and bad-mouth him to the press."

However, Labour leader Ed Miliband sidestepped questions about whether he would vote against the Government on Wednesday.

"We will look at anything that comes forward in terms of votes," he said during a question-and-answer session after a speech about mental health today.

Asked whether he was now a Eurosceptic, he said: "No."

Downing Street insisted the Government was already taking a tough line on the budget - suggesting it would be unrealistic to expect more.

"There simply isn't the case for a real-terms increase. We think the Commission's proposal for a real-terms increase is completely unrealistic," a Number 10 spokeswoman said.

"We are going to be sticking to our guns," she said. "When European countries are having to tighten their belts at home, that is really important."

Asked why the Government was not pressing for a real-terms cut, the spokeswoman replied: "We are one member among 27."

If no agreement is reached on the multi-year budget, next year's allocation will automatically increase by 2% in line with inflation.

PA

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
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

Business Analyst/ Project Manager - Financial Services

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...

Primary Tutors needed in Chester

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Primary Tutoring in Cheshire West &amp...

IT Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Cover Supervisor

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Supervisor...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits