Coffee House

Historic EU Budget cut on the cards for Cameron

8 February 2013

9:25 AM

8 February 2013

9:25 AM

EU leaders have just left their negotiations over the EU budget for a two hour break and so far it’s looking very, very positive for the Prime Minister. Perhaps David Cameron should pick a bracing walk rather than a car into every summit from now on because in the early hours of this morning, EU president Herman Van Rompuy tabled a package that would answer Cameron’s demands for a reduction in spending. This €34.4 billion cut for the spending limits in the multi annual financial framework billion would be the first cut in the budget in the EU’s history.

As I said yesterday, the PM was in a tight spot, not wanting to irritate EU leaders too much, or come back to his own parliament empty handed. He appears to have skilfully negotiated something that keeps both (apart from a very sulky François Hollande) on side. Remember his MPs had sent him to Brussels demanding a cut in the Budget. Coming back without one would not have been a pleasant experience. This is what Mark Pritchard, one of the MPs who tabled the amendment calling for a cut, told Coffee House this morning:

‘If David Cameron achieves a real-terms cut it will be a huge political triumph for him personally and for all those MPs who backed the Reckless/Pritchard amendment. However, I hope that triumph is not diluted by the UK still having to pay more to an inefficient, wasteful and sometimes corrupt entity. UK taxpayers should not pay a penny more.’


Pritchard’s partner in the EU Budget rebellion Mark Reckless is similarly enthusiastic, saying:

‘If the Prime Minister is able to bring back a cut in the EU Budget as mandated by Parliament the whole country will want to congratulate him.’

But, before the Conservative party returns to its post-speech euphoria, the deal hasn’t yet been signed off: so far the most significant thing is that Van Rompuy came up with the goods at all. And even if Cameron does come home waving a piece of paper with the terms of the cut on it, the deal still has to get past MEPs, with European Parliament speaker Martin Schulz throwing a bit of a strop this morning over a budget which covers ‘a time span during which at least one member state has said that it may leave the European Union’. He is threatening to veto the cut because it would lead a structural deficit.

The PM has disappeared for a rest during the break in negotiations. Presumably he’ll be sneaking a peek at the other good news of the day, which is Lord Ashcroft’s Eastleigh poll, showing the Tories 3 per cent ahead.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • the viceroy’s gin

    Well, young lass, let’s make sure we understand the definition of “cut”, which is something other than you Speccie teenagers’ definition of “cut” as previously demonstrated in domestic budgetary matters.

    The definition of “cut” is a year-over-year reduction in spending.

    A “cut” is not an increase, no matter how your Cameroonian heroes spin that increase.

    So as you follow through on this issue, and as your initial leg tingling enthrallment subsides, please be sure to use the correct definition for “cuts”, and not the Speccie bubble denizen definition.

    Thank you.

  • Vulture

    Cuts be bolloxed. Even the BBC correspondent in Brussels admitted on Today that Britain’s astronomical EU contributions are going up (again).

    No wonder the Beeb are broadcasting a new version of Orwell’s 1984 – in Daveworld lies are the new truth.

    • perdix

      Is it not true that our future contributions were set and agreed by Blair?

  • Justathought

    So how does this potential saving of £500m per year compare to the deal Kenny secured for the Irish saving them £20 billion over the next 10 years? Surely this underscores that we are wasting time squabbling over petty privileges when we should be planning a future working with the EU but not in the EU.

    • timinsingapore

      One could equally well say that we are wasting time squabbling over petty privileges when we should be planning a future based on reform of the EU, which is more likely to be achieved from within, rather than squawking haplessly from the margins.

  • Sue

    It’s not a cut. Just wait until everybody works it out after the initial euphoria. God you lot are gullible.

    • Fergus Pickering

      You mean you hope it’s not a cut.

    • timinsingapore

      Well, yes indeed, Sue, every silver lining has a cloud …

    • HooksLaw

      Thanks for showing us how bigoted ‘you lot’ are.

  • Deputy Dawg

    It is easy for the EU to propose a cut in the budget. We must wait and see what actually takes place. All modern politics is about spin and not about what is actually delivered. We could well see the budget rejected and a default increase imposed, or even a reduced budget accepted with the UK ending up paying more.

    The fact is that membership of the EU costs the UK about $75 billion a year, and the cost of the direct budget payments is only a small element of the costs to the UK. The costs include (but are not part of this budget) the payment of large sums of child benefit to families who are not British, have not contributed to British taxes over any period, and whose children do not live in the UK. They include the cost of NHS treatment to EU immigrants which is never recovered. They include the costs of pressure on housing, increased British unemployment, provision of additional support in schools for whole classes where no-one speaks English.

    Let’s not be fooled. A budget decrease as reported here will do nothing at all towards driving down the real costs to the UK of EU membership.

    • HooksLaw

      Inventing figures is the work of a deranged mind.

  • Adrian Drummond

    Isabel, please put your article in context. This is not Cameron against the rest of the EU. The other north European countries have also fought for this reduction and will be pleased. This narrative that it is the UK against the rest is sometimes (though not always) misleading.