Commission must think again over budget-hike demand

Conservative MEPs today urged the EU Commission to “think again” after it submitted a budget proposals which would see EU spending grow next year.

Tory budget spokesman Richard Ashworth said Budgets Commissioner Janus Lewandowski needed to reconsider, re-prioritise and reduce his planned spending commitments.

He was speaking after the commissioner published demands for a 2.1 per cent increase in spending commitments next year, coupled with a 1.3 per cent increase in actual payments. Critics said the proposal cut across the historic cut to the EU’s long-term budget negotiated by David Cameron and Conservative MEPs last year.

Mr Ashworth said: “We know that margins are tight and that means the EU budget must be subject to increasing rigour.

“The increase suggested by the Commission this year, compared to previous requests, is much lower and below the rate of inflation in the UK. However, the new pressure should lead the new Commission and Parliament to address is the way in which the whole EU budget works. They need to think again.

“We need to ensure that funding goes only to the poorest regions and must ask ourselves if spending large amounts of money in richer areas is needed. If suspect the answer is that instead we can make further savings.

” In addition, we need to look at the Common Agricultural Policy and how this money I spent – to ensure that it goes to making our farming industry more competitive in a global market.”