Despite David Cameron’s bragging last year that he had forced the EU to contain its budget, the European Commission yesterday was back demanding a further €4.7bn (£3.8bn) of which Britain will have to pay around £500m.
And while the demand was genuine, the Tory “fury” reported was fake. One EU expert called it “cynical grandstanding.”
The truth is that back in November, when Cameron and the Tory press were claiming the prime minister had defeated the Brussels establishment and had screwed down the EU’s seven year budget to €135.5bn, they were just squeezing the headline figure.
Cameron and the Conservative propaganda machine did not mention the warnings that at that figure the Commission was under-budgeting and would not be able to cover its legal obligations.
In fact, yesterday’s demand is just the first in what will be several Draft Amending Budgets which will demand a real increase in member state contributions, just to cover the deficit for this year, as EU expert Dr Richard North points out.
“Furthermore,” says North, “this is still ignoring the €217 billion in deferred payments, known as reste à liquider (RAL), which haven’t gone away and will not go away. No matter how often they are deferred, and how much creative accounting that the Commission engages in, these bills will eventually have to be paid.”
The commission is bound by treaty law, agreed to and submitted to by this Government and every preceding British government, to demand this money. EU financial commitments have legal force under the treaties, and must be met out of current income.
Unlike member states, the Commission is prohibited from running up a deficit.
The extra €4.7bn is now needed to cover late bills, primarily for infrastructure projects in eastern Europe. It has to be paid from a “contingency margin” – a buffer which can be used in emergency cases to increase the EU’s annual spending, according to EU Observer.
North said: “Effectively, member state leaders, such as Cameron, are trying to have their cake and eat it. They want to be seen to be controlling expenditure, yet at the same time – by act or default – they are permitting the Commission to take on extra commitments.”
Recent extra commitments include €1.6bn in aid to Ukraine.
As long as we stay in the EU and allow “this cynical grandstanding by the likes of Mr Cameron, the only thing left to us is impotent ‘fury,’ and lazy headlines from an ignorant media.”