Thursday

6th Oct 2022

UK seeking concessions on long-term EU budget

  • UK PM David Cameron is hoping to win the support of French President Nicolas Sarkozy (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

British Prime Minister David Cameron is pressing EU leaders in the margins of a European Summit in Brussels on Thursday (16 December) to support a declaration on limiting the size of the EU's future multi-annual budget (post 2013), diplomats have indicated.

Although the budgetary issue is not formally on the summit's agenda, the UK leader is hoping to garner the support of enough member states in order to publish a letter later today or on Friday.

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France and Germany are the UK leader's primary targets, with net-paying nations such as Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria also potential signatories.

"The letter's language will stress that what is done at national level should be repeated at the European level," said one diplomat.

Mr Cameron is under pressure from elements of his own Conservative Party to limit future EU spending, especially as national governments implement thumping austerity packages back home.

London recently lost its battle to freeze spending in next year's annual EU budget which is decided by majority voting among member states, unlike the long-term framework which needs unanimity.

The European Commission is set to come forward with official proposals on the multi-annual budget mid-2011.

A tie-up between the size of the future EU budget, Britain's EU budgetary rebate and funding for the common agricultural policy (CAP) is one deal rumoured to be under discussion between France and the UK. France is adamant that CAP funding should not be cut.

Poland has been the leading opponent of attempts to limit the size of the multi-annual framework which is then subsequently broken down into annual spending plans.

"What is the most important from our point of view is for the budget not to be reduced significantly, because we believe the funds flowing to Poland and other countries help us fight the crisis," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters hours before the summit.

"There is a clear division about the issue, and Britain and Poland are on the opposite poles of this dispute," he added.

European Parliament President conceded the long-term budgetary issues was being discussed between member states.

"I have heard of the letter," he told journalists on Thursday after his address to the EU leaders. "It is important to stress the commission's role, they have the right of initiative."

Some Conservative MEPs have called on Mr Cameron to make his support for an EU treaty change dependent on winning concessions in various areas. Germany has pushed for an EU treaty change in order to set up a permanent crisis mechanism to help struggling eurozone countries post 2013, with the issue uppermost on the summit's agenda.

"[The] treaty change cannot go through without the unanimous approval of all 27 member states," Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan noted in a blog on Thursday. "Here, in short, a Heaven-sent opportunity to walk away with a major set of concessions."

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