Britain's long-term EU budget goal "in sight"

15-May-2013 @ 11:0

Richard Ashworth Richard Ashworth

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Agreement on an extra €7.3 billion in this year's EU budget should pave the way for a long-term spending settlement which delivers a series of key British objectives, the leader of the UK's Conservative MEPs said today.
Richard Ashworth was speaking after Finance Ministers sitting in the EU Council decided by qualified majority that in theory they would allow the extra spending towards unpaid bills run up last year by member states - including Britain - on EU projects.
The European Parliament, which has co-decision powers with the Council on budget matters, has insisted that key negotiations on the EU's long-term budget blueprint to 2020 could go no further until the matter of the so-called "draft amending budget" for 2013 was settled.
The UK along with Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands were in a minority in opposing the extra spending, but Mr Ashworth said today that what might appear to be a backward step could help deliver a better long-term deal for Britain in the seven-year Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF).
In announcing its new position, Council said the extra money for 2013 would only be finally approved once MEPs agreed final terms on the long-term budget.
Mr Ashworth said: "If this measure is finally agreed next week between Parliament and Council, it should mean Britain achieving its key goals for the long-term budget - including the Prime Minister's historic deal for the first ever budget reduction. We should see the seven-year budget fall by 3.3 per cent and a lid firmly put on the idea of the EU raising its own funding through own-resources taxation.
"All of those are worth striving for and it is now incumbent on the Parliament to accept the current position and stop coming back with demands for more cash."
As a key UK negotiator in the Parliament on budget, the South East MEP has been concerned that the political log-jam over the 2013 budget could threaten the prospects of a sound seven-year agreement.
He said: "The issue of the amending budget has been a cloud over our talks, but it could prove to have a silver lining if it helps deliver the right agreement on MFF. This puts a good long-term deal in sight."
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