European policy consultants
Rural development and renewable energy

Would a veto to EU budget framework be the best solution for UK?

In an unscripted addition to his CBI speech (19th November), David Cameron demanded that the EU stop "picking the pockets" of the public. .

The Prime Minister said it was "not credible" for the EU's funding package to escape the pain of austerity, and insisted that Commission officials should accept cuts, adding that pushing for spending cuts made him "a good European".

Writing in the Guardian, Radoslaw Sikorski points out that the EU budget is roughly 1% of the GDP of all members of the EU, compared with overall UK public spending at about 50% of GDP.

The UK's annual national contribution to the EU is about £9bn, less than £150 from every UK citizen in 2011. At the same time Italy and Germany paid up to 50% more, and wealthier states, such as Sweden and Denmark, pay twice as much for every one of their citizens.

The commission has proposed a real terms freeze of the multi-annual budget at the 2013 level. So Sikorski asks, what is it that the UK really wants? Britain has called for cuts of around €200bn compared to the commission's proposal.

A British veto of the budget in November would not decrease EU spending. The treaty foresees a situation in which the budget is not adopted, and this leads to provisional annual budgets. In such a case the level of spending in 2013 would be the basis for the next few years. Under annual budgets, payments for agriculture would increase. The UK rebate would still be up for negotiation.

www.guardian.co.uk