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18th Jan 2020

Netherlands to pay EU top-up bill this year

  • Dijsselbloem: “If you have the money in your wallet, then it's often very good advice to pay your bills”. (Photo: "The Council of the European Union")

The Netherlands is paying its extra EU bill, a net payment of €642 million, before the end of 2014, well ahead of the extended deadline of 1 September 2015.

Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has told Dutch media that it is “in the Netherlands's interest to pay this year” after the government experienced some financial windfall.

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Dijsselbloem said that “if you have the money in your wallet, then it's often very good advice to pay your bills”.

The adjustment of EU payments for some member states was the result of a change in how gross national incomes are calculated.

This week it emerged that the Netherlands will actually have to pay €1.1 billion, because stalled budget talks between the European Parliament and finance ministers are delaying a €460 million restitution to the Netherlands.

“We have to pay the bigger sum first, after that we will receive 460 [million]”, said Dijsselbloem, adding that the net payment remained €642 million. He noted the restitution will be done “probably partly this year, partly next year”.

But the finance minister did not seem concerned noting it is more beneficial to pay off debts than to have large sums of cash.

Earlier in November, ING bank paid the last part of the €10 billion government capital injection that saved the lender in 2008. ING's last payment, also ahead of schedule, consisted of slightly more than €1 billion.

“If we put the money we have in cash now on a bank account, we would have to pay negative interest”, Dijsselbloem said.

He added the Dutch budget deficit for 2014 will be 2.9 percent of GDP, just narrowly under the 3 percent EU limit.

What's bad for the UK is good for France

Meanwhile, French finance minister Michel Sapin on Thursday (20 November) made a comment on the correction of budget contributions that is likely to irritate the UK, which strongly criticised its €2bn bill.

While the Netherlands and the UK are having to pay extra into the EU budget, others, notably France, are getting money back.

“It just so happens that what is sending [UK prime minister] Cameron into a rage is actually a source of comfort for us, because it enables us to pocket one billion euros, and that’s not nothing when you’re trying to balance your budget,” Sapin said according to the Telegraph.

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