Battle lines drawn to resist fresh EU budget cash grab

Conservative MEPs pledged to fiercely resist a bid by The European Commission to add an extra €11.2bn to the EU budget for 2013.

The CommissionNo to budget announced its demand for the Council to reimburse some of the money spent by the member states during 2012. The commission claims part of that money was in excess of the funding available from the 2012 budget and, unless it is reimbursed now, it will have to be carried over into the budget for 2013.

The move – which the Commission and some MEPs are calling the “big bang” – has the support of the European Parliament’s socialist president Martin Schulz.

Richard Ashworth, the leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs and a key UK negotiator on the Parliament’s Budget Committee, described the move as “confrontational and disruptive”.

He said: “President Schulz and the Commission have acknowledged the likely success of David Cameron’s deal on the long-term budget- They realise there is a broad acceptance in Parliament that the agreement to reduce the overall cost of the budget for the first time in history will stick.

“It is clear the Prime Minister will have his way and the budget will be reduced from 2014. So instead we are seeing an attempt by President Schulz and others to pick a different fight and flex their muscles over 2013 spending.

“It is confrontational and disruptive, but In a sense it is a last hurrah because they are trying to wring the last few millions they can from the budget granted by Labour and Tony Blair under Britain’s last presidency of the EU Council.

“Fortunately the budget negotiated by Mr Cameron will come into force from January 1st next year; but nevertheless we will fight this attempt to squeeze yet more taxpayers’ cash from the existing Blair budget.”