New budget agreement: Conservatives continue to bear down on EU costs

An agreement was struck in the early hours of today (Tuesday) on the European Union’s budget for 2014.

The package agreed will see headline spending fall from €144.3 billion this year to €135.5 billion in 2014.

However, after protracted negotiations in Brussels between the European Parliament, the Commission and the EU Council, it was agreed to incorporate additional retrospective sums (amending budgets) into the 2014 budget. When adding in inflation, these will mean a real-terms freeze in the EU budget as compared with the initially-agreed budget for 2013.

Richard Ashworth, leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs and a key UK negotiator on budget, said: “We welcome what is an effective freeze of EU budget. Headline spend is still set to fall by six per cent.

“While we voted against additions to the budget, we welcome the overall direction. Alongside the historic 3.8% reduction which we have secured on the EU’s long-term budget, this as further evidence of us bringing genuine discipline to EU spending.

“These kind of negotiations will become the norm as EU is obliged to come to terms with life in the real world.

“Our drive to bring down costs in Europe is continuing to bring results. It began with David Cameron’s historic long-term-budget deal last February – and it is continuing now.

“It is particularly welcome that money has been switched away from less-useful budget headings to the important areas of research and development, education, training and jobs. If we are to restart Europe’s economy, this is where spending needs to be focused instead of on pet schemes, bureaucracy and vanity protects.

“In the long term there needs to be a complete review of the structure of the EU budget from top to bottom, but for the time being this is a step in the right direction.”

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