UK Treasury opposes EU call for 'yet more money'

Blocks of 100 euro notes Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Treasury said it wanted to ensure EU "budget discipline"

The UK Treasury has said the European Commission should not be asking for "yet more money" from EU member states.

The commission has published proposals to increase the 2014 contributions from members by 2.16 billion euros (£1.76bn) to cover increased costs for growth and jobs schemes, and help for Ukraine.

It wants 4.73 billion euros (£3.85bn) in total but some will come from other sources including competition fines.

The commission said the money was for schemes agreed by member states.

"The UK was among the member states who agreed that extra support be given to the Ukraine and youth employment initiatives, so it should come as no surprise when the commission calls on member states to follow through on this support," a spokesman said.

But the Treasury said "existing funds" should be used to cover costs.

It said the real cost to member states would be the higher figure of 4.73 billion euros - of which the UK share would be about £500m.

The extra money being raised from sources such as competition fines should be used to fund rebates to member states or cut future payments, it added.

Maximum spending

Under a mechanism called the "contingency margin", the European Commission can call for extra funding for unforeseen circumstances.

This must be approved by the European Council - made up of a senior minister from each member state - after which states cannot refuse to pay.

However, future budgets must decrease by the same amount to ensure overall spending between 2014 and 2020 stays within agreed limits.

Last year the EU agreed a seven-year budget which included a real-terms spending cut, with maximum spending of 908 billion euros (£738bn at current values) from 2014-20.

The Treasury said: "At a time when countries across Europe continue to take difficult decisions to deal with deficits, the European Commission should not be asking Europe's taxpayers for yet more money.

"The UK firmly believes the EU should manage any additional spending pressures through the reallocation of existing funds within the agreed budget.

"We will work with other governments to achieve a budget for this year which ensures budget discipline and reflects the economic reality in Europe, as well as the tough but fair deal done by the prime minister last year."

The European Commission, the only part of the EU that can propose laws, is made up of commissioners chosen by the governments of each member state.

Its responsibilities include ensuring EU legislation is "correctly applied" in member countries.

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