Conservatives send Commission a budget-talks warning

0Strasbourg, 24 October 2013

Conservative MEPs today sent a warning message to the EU Commission over poor management and brinksmanship in its handling of budget negotiations.

British Conservatives registered abstentions in a vote over the so-called Draft Amending Budget 6, which shifts €2.7 billion Euros from customs revenue as source of funding for the EU budget, to national contributions, in order to cover bills which the Commission faces due to a shortfall of customs duties as a result of the financial crisis.

Ultimately the measure will result in what is effectively a mini-rebate for Britain £352 million by switching revenue-sourcing to a pot to which UK contributions are proportionally smaller, but MEPs across party groups have been exasperated by the EU Commission’s approach to negotiations.

Richard Ashworth, the leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs and group negotiator on budget, said: “At a budget committee meeting on Monday night, out of the blue, the Commission announced that they were suffering a €2.7 billion loss of revenue because the economic downturn meant reduced income from import duties. Then we were threatened with the suggestion that if the DAB6 money wasn’t handed over within days the EU would be unable to meet its legal obligations.

“Today’s vote came against this background of considerable disquiet in the Parliament over the Commission’s approach. You shouldn’t suddenly now be flagging up the supposed consequences of a downturn we have had for three years. To do so is either incompetent or disingenuous.

“This was really to send a message that we are far from happy with the Commission’s approach. It demonstrates more than ever the fundamental need to reform the budget.”