October 28, 2014
There are some who are tempted to let David Cameron enjoy the consequences of his latest tantrum at the European Council. But for the sake of the long-term relationship of Britain and Europe it is probably worth rescuing him. Here are the elements of the deal.
The European Commission apologises for the clumsy way in which news of the latest technical budgetary adjustments was handled last week: its excuse is the handover from Barroso II to Juncker I. The Commission also agrees to write into its rules of procedure a mechanism for raising to the political level of the college the handling of future budgetary adjustments that are unexpected or substantial.
The UK’s Office of National Statistics comes up with some marginally adjusted numbers. The Ecofin meeting on Friday 31st verifies the Commission’s figures and tweaks them if appropriate for any member state (on a proposal of the Commission).
The British government asks to pay the agreed total sum in three tranches before July. The interest charges in case of non-payment – 2% in December rising by 0.5% every month – are deferred. This is accepted.
The Sixth Draft Amending Budget including all the adjustments, the reduction in overall expenditure and the rise of the UK rebate, is then passed before 15 November by the Council and Parliament.
The European Council in December agrees a statement committing the member states, at the next revision of the financial system, to reduce the proportion of own resources paid by direct GNI contributions from national treasuries. The Monti high-level task force on the mid-term review of the MFF is directed to reach a commensurately high level of ambition.
It is worth recalling that if the 6th DAB is not agreed the UK will have to pay €3.6bn and not €2.1bn. Even the House of Commons should be able to understand that.Andrew Duff